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Mark Whittington of the Houston Space News Examiner reports that Russia to evict NASA from the International Space Station in 2020, as punishment for what Russia considers to be intrusive bullying by the United States imposing sanctions on Russia for its actions in Ukraine. As counter sanctions Russia will also end most other space cooperation with the U.S. including prohibiting our use of their advanced RD-180 and NK-33 rocket engines to launch military satellites, and closing down 16 of our GPS sites in Russian territory. Russia has not said under what conditions they would take us back up to the ISS until 2024 as was the original plan - for example, if we were to "apologize, end our sanctions, and tell them they could keep the Crimea," (Snark alert!)  

The Obama administration would like to extend space station operations to at least 2024. According to the Financial Times Russia believes that its withdraw from the space station will make this impossible. In effect Russia will have evicted the United States from the orbiting space lab that it provided the lion’s share of money and resources to build and maintain.

Russia has been showing signs of divorcing its space program from the United States ever since the Ukraine crisis started. Recently it announced serious plans to build a lunar base starting in 2030. This is seen as a poke in the eye of the United States as well, as NASA has abandoned lunar exploration by presidential directive. ...

The Russian moves highlight American vulnerabilities in space, thanks largely to policies initiated by President Clinton, President George W. Bush, and President Obama, Clinton first brought Russia on as a partner in the space station project. Bush ended the space shuttle program to pay for Project Constellation, opening a “space flight gap” between the last shuttle flight and the first flight of the shuttle successor that had to be filled with rides on the Russian Soyuz. Obama widened that gap by cancelling Constellation and starting to pay subsidies to build private sector operated spacecraft.

 

Given NASA's meager budget Whittington report's our options are fairly limited.

What are the laws of abandoned property in space? Are they similar to those for the laws of the oceans such that abandoned ships may be claimed for salvage? Wouldn't be an "extra poke in the eye' if the Russians claimed the International Space Station as abandoned salvage and repainted it with a bright red cycle and star?  

Dang, this international diplomacy is complicated and fraught with unintended side-effects. I haven't seen a reaction from the U.S. yet.

Who would have thought the Russians would have pulled this New Jersey trick on us? "Hey, that's a nice space station ya got there America, what a shame if something was to happen to it."  

Maybe having the Russians rub our noses in the mud will make the Republicans angry enough they will discover a new found love of science and boost the budget for NASA so we can launch military satellites and get back into space.

And, what is this whole Russian lunar colony in 2030? Shouldn't we build a bigger one so we can say, " Say, that's a nice lunar base you got there Russia, what a shame if something was to happen to it." Then we can start planning for a Mars base in 2060.  

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