According to NASA, the International Space Station will continue to operate regularly considering the challenges in Ukraine.
Despite rapidly rising tensions between the two countries, the U.S and Russian space agencies have maintained that cooperative operations will continue.
“The International Space Station team is continuing to conduct research operations in low-Earth orbit safely,” NASA spokesperson said.
“Ongoing station operations continue, including work to fly crew to the orbital outpost and to return them safely to Earth.”
NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who is set to return to Earth aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on March 30, is one of the scheduled operations.
The ISS presently accommodates six people, including ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer, NASA astronaut Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and two Russian Cosmonauts, Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov, in addition to Vande Hei.
If the Soyuz mission proceeds as planned, cosmonauts Shkaplerov and Dubrov and Mr Vande Hei will return to Earth.
Mr Vande Hei will set a new American record when he returns home, having spent 355 days in space. He was intended to replace in October, but his mission was prolonged to accommodate a Russian filmmaker and actress filming a film on the space station.
Should Mr Vande Hei’s return be postponed due to the Ukraine crisis? It wouldn’t be the first time Russian politics threw someone off for longer than intended. Sergei Krikalev, a Soviet Cosmonaut, was sent to the Mir Space Station in May 1991 and did not return until March 1992, due to the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991.
Krikalev would next go aboard NASA’s space shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS), validating the agency’s claim that the space station and other joint US-Russia space missions will continue despite the growing unrest in Ukraine.
“NASA and its international partners have maintained a continuous and productive human presence aboard the International Space Station for more than 21 years,” a spokesperson said.
However, NASA and the Russian Space Agency are not the only parties engaged. It is uncertain if Ukraine and US, and European bans would influence commercial space launches and businesses that rely on Russian Baikonur spaceport services in Kazakhstan.