Elon Musk has vowed that he will thwart any attempt by the Russian government to send the International Space Station (ISS) hurtling toward Earth during an uncontrolled deorbit. The CEO and Chief Engineer of SpaceX made the promise after the head of Russia’s space agency warned it could crash into the US or Europe.
“If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States and Europe?” Rogozin tweeted on Friday.
“There is also the option of dropping a 500-ton structure [the ISS] to India and China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, so all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?,” Russia’s space chief also asked on the social media platform.
In respond, Musk tweeted his vow that SpaceX would save the ISS from falling to Earth. While NASA has stated that nothing’s changing with respect to ISS operations, but if it does, America’s aeronautics and space administration can rely on SpaceX for space exploration and aid, as it has in the past.
Following Russia’s military action against Ukraine last week, NASA said it would “make every effort to continue as before … [despite] disagreements between our countries.”
The ISS has been in orbit for more than 21 years, and been occupied by a multinational crew from 15 different countries. Its current occupants include four NASA astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts and Matthias Maurer from the European Space Agency.
The ISS is due to be decommissioned in 2030, and current plans involve it having a controlled deorbit over the Pacific Ocean. If Russia’s involvement in the orbiting laboratory ends before then, Musk hinted that the Russian Segment could be replaced by a SpaceX Dragon that could provide reboost capability and altitude control.
Over the weekend, Musk also confirmed that SpaceX was also assisting Ukraine by delivering high-speed internet from its Starlink satellite constellation, following a request from the country’s vice prime minister. “Starlink service is now active in Ukraine,” the businessman tweeted on Saturday. “More terminals en route.”