* Senior official says U.S. sanctions hurt Russian space
* Wants guarantee Russian engine imports not be used for
* Says it not satisfied by talks will close GPS sites in
(Adds comment from United Launch Alliance)
By Alissa de Carbonnel
MOSCOW, May 13 Russia cast doubt on the
long-term future of the International Space Station, a showcase
of post-Cold War cooperation, as it retaliated on Tuesday
against U.S. sanctions over Ukraine.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Moscow would
reject a U.S. request to prolong the orbiting station's use
beyond 2020. It will also bar Washington from using Russian-made
rocket engines to launch military satellites.
Moscow took the action, which also included suspending
operation of GPS satellite navigation system sites on its
territory from June, in response to U.S. plans to deny export
licences for high-technology items that could help the Russian
"We are very concerned about continuing to develop high-tech
projects with such an unreliable partner as the United States,
which politicises everything," Rogozin told a news conference.
Washington wants to keep the $100 billion, 15 nation space
station project in use until at least 2024, four years beyond
the previous target.
Moscow's plan to part ways on a project which was supposed
to end the "space race" underlines how relations between the
former Cold War rivals have deteriorated since Russia annexed
Ukraine's Crimea region in March.
Since the end of the U.S. Space Shuttle project, Russian
Soyuz spacecraft have been the only way astronauts can get to
the space station, whose crews include mostly Americans and
Russians, as well as visitors from other countries.
At a time when Moscow is struggling to reform its
accident-plagued space programme, Rogozin said U.S. plans to
deny export licences for some high-technology items were a blow
to Russian industry. "These sanctions are out of place and
inappropriate," Rogozin said. "We have enough of our own
Moscow's response would affect NK-33 and RD-180 engines
which Russia supplies to the United States, Rogozin said. "We
are ready to deliver these engines but on one condition that
they will not be used to launch military satellites," he said.
RD-180 engines are used to boost Atlas 5 rockets
manufactured by United Launch Alliance (ULA), a partnership of
Lockheed Martin and Boeing that holds a virtual monopoly on
launching U.S. military satellites.
ULA on Tuesday said it was not yet aware of any restrictions
and hopes talks will resolve any issues that do arise. It added
that it can use other launch vehicles and has a two-year supply
of engines to smooth over any transition.
"ULA and our Department of Defense customers have always
prepared contingency plans in the event of a supply disruption,"
ULA spokeswoman Jessica Rye said in a statement.
Rogozin said Moscow was planning "strategic changes" in its
space industry after 2020 and aims to use money and
"intellectual resources" that now go to the space station for a
"a project with more prospects".
He suggested Russia could use the station without the United
States, saying: "The Russian segment can exist independently
from the American one. The U.S. one cannot."
The U.S. space agency NASA is working with companies to
develop space taxis with the goal of restoring U.S. transport to
the station by 2017. The United States currently pays Russia
more than $60 million per person to fly its astronauts up.
Rogozin said Russia will suspend the operation of 11 GPS
sites on its territory from June and seek talks with Washington
on opening similar sites in the United States for Russia's own
satellite navigation system, Glonass.
He threatened the permanent closure of the GPS sites in
Russia if that is not agreed by September. Rogozin said the
suspension of the sites would not affect everyday operations of
the GPS system in Russia, where it is used by millions of
Russians for navigation on their smartphones and in their cars.
The upheaval in Ukraine - where the United States says
Russia is backing separatists and the Kremlin accuses Washington
of helping protesters to topple a Moscow-friendly president in
February, has led to the worst East-West crisis since the 1991
collapse of the Soviet Union.
In addition to the high-tech sector sanctions, the United
States has imposed visa bans and assets freezes on officials and
lawmakers and targeted companies with links to President
Vladimir Putin. The European Union has also imposed sanctions.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier on Tuesday that
the latest EU measures were an "exhausted, trite approach" that
would only deepen discord and hamper efforts to defuse the
crisis in Ukraine.
(Additonal reporting by Irene Klotz and Gabriela Gabriela
Baczynska Writing by Steve Gutterman and Alissa de Carbonnel;
Editing by David Stamp)