Russia withdraws from European spaceport in response to sanctions

The country has also dropped US involvement in a Venus probe.

JODY AMIET/AFP via Getty Images

Russia is cutting some of its cooperation with international space programs in response to sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine. Roscosmos is "suspending" cooperation with European partners on launches from the Guiana Space Center in retaliation for EU sanctions. As Ars Technica explains, the Russian agency also announced that it's pulling staff from the French Guiana-based spaceport.

At the same time, Parabolic Arc notes Russia is ending NASA's participation in the Venera-D mission to Venus, deeming it "inappropriate" to continue joint work in light of sanctions. Venera-D is meant to revive Russian exploration of Venus by sending an orbiter and lander to the hellish planet in 2029. It's not yet clear how the lack of US involvement will affect the project, although Russia claimed in 2020 that its mission wouldn't have "extensive involvement" from other countries.

EU space commissioner Thierry Breton said in a February 26th statement that Russia's decision on the spaceport wouldn't affect service for the Copernicus and Galileo satellite networks. However, this could complicate future launches for either project. Europe's remaining Ariane 5 rockets are already booked, and Ariane 6 won't be ready until 2023 or later. The EU likely won't have access to Russian Soyuz rockets if it needs a launch on short notice, and might have to turn to companies like SpaceX instead.

Russia hasn't severed all its partnerships. It's still involved in the International Space Station for now, although it might leave to establish its own facility. Even so, it's now clear the country is willing to limit scientific efforts in space to punish its political opponents.