War in space: Russia threatens entire GPS system over Ukraine crisis

14 May 2014

In the diplomatic brinkmanship accompanying the crisis in Ukraine, Russia’s government has threatened to end co-operation with the US on major space projects, such as the International Space Station and the entire GPS system.

After the US decided to impose sanctions over Russia’s involvement in hostilities in Ukraine, Russia has now warned that maintenance of the GPS system could be curtailed.

Deputy Prime Minister Dimitry Rogozin has threatened to shut down Russian base stations that keep the GPS programme unless the US builds base stations that support Russia’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), its equivalent to GPS.

The US operates 11 GPS stations in Russia, which are used to guide rocket and satellite launches.

In terms of co-operation in the field of space science and technology, Rogozin called the US “an unreliable partner.”

Russia has said it will prevent US space agency NASA from accessing the International Space Station from 2020, as well as disrupt the supply of components for Atlas V rockets that send military and commercial satellites into space.

Rogozin said that rather than providing US astronauts with seats on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, the astronauts can reach the space station “by trampoline” if they so wish.

Space image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years