Sen. Bill Nelson: Russian Behind ISS Ban Was Sanctioned by US

Friday, 16 May 2014 12:29 PM

By Wanda Carruthers

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The official behind Moscow's announcement that the United States will be prohibited from using the international space station was among those sanctioned by Washington after Russia's aggressive moves into Crimea and Ukraine, Sen. Bill Nelson said Friday.

Nelson said Russia couldn't make the decision because the United States was the primary owner of the space station. He explained the two nations had been working in concert on the station since the Cold War era.

"The fellow who is saying all this bombastic stuff, he was sanctioned because of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's aggressiveness. They froze his bank account, and he doesn't like it. And, so, he's lashing out," the Florida Democrat and former astronaut told "Fox & Friends."

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announced Tuesday the U.S. would no longer be able to use the space station after 2020. Currently, Russian Soyuz spacecraft carry American astronauts to the ISS at a cost to the U.S. of $70 million per flight. Nelson said that the United States would stop using the Russian rockets when "we get our own humanly safe rockets ready in about two or three years."

Nelson maintained Russia "can't operate the space station without us." He explained, while Russia has components on the space station, they get "all of their electricity from U.S. systems."

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Nelson said the U.S. "went in there to keep their rocket scientists from going to Iran and North Korea." A deal was structured around "this incredible engine that they have," called the Atlas 5. He said the U.S. would be building a similar engine, because Russia had prohibited its sale for military use.

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