NASA's Administrator Charles Bolden says that Russia's plan to end cooperation on the International Space Station after 2020 will not have an impact on the success of the orbital platform.
Speaking to reporters in Germany, Bolden said Monday that even if Russia withdrew, no one country "is indispensable" in keeping the station operational. Japan, Canada and the European Union are also partners in the multibillion-dollar ISS.
Although Russia's Soyuz launches are now the only ticket to the station since the U.S. space shuttle program ended, Bolden said private companies were expected to launch astronauts to the orbiting platform beginning in 2017.
Bolden's remarks in Berlin come after Russia last week announced it will not cooperate with a U.S. request to extend the life of the station beyond 2020. That announcement, from Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, came as part of the Kremlin's response to Western sanctions sparked by the annexation of Crimea and tensions in eastern Ukraine.
Rogozin also said that Russia would halt shipments of two rocket engines used in U.S. launch vehicles and would shut down U.S. GPS ground stations on Russian soil.