Russian physicist Roald Sagdeev, who was the director of the prestigious Space Science Institute in the Soviet Union, told Itar-Tass on April 4, that the NASA announcement that it was suspending cooperation with Russia, was “induced from above.” “NASA is a purely technical organization that never makes political decisions,” he observed. The policy came from “superiors.” Although the space station has been exempted from the suspension, he explains, it is not clear what will happen to collaboration on other scientific projects.
Sagdeev cites as a specific example, the RadioAstron scientific satellite. This “unique radio telescope, as a matter fact, [is] a system linked with ground-based radio telescopes, with unique resolution parameters, capable of examining the tiniest details thousands of times better than Hubble or other optical telescopes,” he reports. The satellite’s observations are synchronized with ground telescopes in Europe, and the main one is located in Crimea’s resort of Yevpatoria. “I do not know what will happen to it now, and what steps will be taken in practice,” in the wake of the NASA announcement, he said.
Asked about the response from the scientific community in the U.S., Sagdeev replied: “The general feeling is if some specific projects are curtailed and research instruments that are being used jointly are turned off, the loss for science will be great, indeed. I will say even more. It will be a great loss for specific people who have spent years of their lives to achieve these projects.”
Sagdeev, who is a physics professor at the University of Maryland, is married to the former President’s granddaughter, Susan Eisenhower, who speaks often about the importance of the U.S.-Russian collaboration in space, and has documented that history in her book, Partners in Space.