Russian Satellite Breaks Up in Atmosphere: Russia Threatens US Space Program
The only place left to successfully launch spacecraft is a Soviet space base in Kazakhstan. The Baikonur Cosmodrome has been used by Russia and other nations to launch space missions; however, Russia's latest rocket launch did not go as planned.
A Proton-M carrier rocket carrying an Express-AM4R communications satellite was destroyed when exiting the planet's atmosphere, announced Russia's Federal Space Agency. According to Radio Free Europe, officials said the rocket's third stage boosters did not engage about nine minutes after lift off, sending the payload into a "non-intended orbit."
The satellite was meant to provide TV and radio broadcasting as well as Internet access, multimedia services, telephone and mobile communications for 15 years. However, Radio Free Europe reported that, soon after the failure, the rocket and satellite plunged through the atmosphere into the Pacific Ocean. However, despite Russia's latest space mishap, it still possesses the only access to the International Space Station (ISS) and has threatened to deny the United States access to it.
Because of budget cuts to the American space program, American astronauts have had to use Baikonur Cosmodrome as a launch base as well as Russian Soyuz spacecraft. But, the recent tensions over Ukraine and the severe sanctions imposed by the U.S. government over the incident have prompted Russia to use a resource America lacks and needs against it.
According to the Huffington Post, Russia's deputy prime minister, Dmitry Rogozin, mocked the U.S. in a tweet. He wrote, "After analyzing the sanctions against our space industry, I suggest to the USA to bring their astronauts to the International Space Station using a trampoline."
In response, NASA announced that it would cease all joint operations with Russia except for those pertaining to the ISS, according to Forbes. However, Rogozin told reporters that the cooperation between the two nations concerning the ISS would not extend further than 2020.
"We have not received any official notification from the government of Russia on any changes in our space cooperation at this point," NASA said in a statement.
However, Russia looks to further hinder the U.S. Rogozin also announced that Russia would cease exports of the RD-180 rocket engine. According to The Guardian, NASA uses the rocket boosters, which are not reusable, in the Atlas V rocket but more importantly by the Pentagon to deliver spy satellites into orbit.
The Guardian adds that Elon Musk's SpaceX private space company filed a lawsuit on April 30 in protest of the government buying the Russian engines in bulk. They want to also be given government contracts to launch military rockets into space.