According to a story written by AP Science Writer Alicia Chang, NASA employees can no longer travel to Russia or host
Russian visitors until further notice. Teleconferences with counterparts in the Russian space program are also forbidden. Activities related to the International Space Station are exempt.
The reason: Russian's recent actions in relation to Ukraine.
Since the retirement of the space shuttle, NASA has
depended on Russia to hitch rides to the giant orbiting outpost, paying
nearly $71 million for a seat on the Soyuz, according to Chang's report.
Last month, before the announcement was made, WDRB's Travis Kircher spoke with the crew of Expedition 40, three men who are expected to launch aboard a Soyuz space capsule from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on May 28.
During that interview, all three of the crewmembers downplayed the effect political tensions were having between the international partners.
"It would be naive to say it does not cast a shadow," said American astronaut Reid Wiseman.
"Wouldn't it be great if every country in the world was friendly?
But...even during these kind of trying political times, my Russian
commander Max Suraev, you know, he walks in the room this morning, we
give each other a hug and he asks how my night went. And you realize
that, once you remove politics, people are people. And for the most
part, people love other people. And it's fantastic to work with these
Russian commander Max Suraev was also optimistic about continued cooperation.
"We are still working together…to discover some interesting things for whole humans, because we are – in Russia cosmonaut
team, and they are here in the U.S. in astronaut team, and in the
Europe the same – away from some politicians' questions," Suraev said. "And it's not going to involve someone from my crew, and it's not going
to change our flight or our relations. I believe that it's not for us.
We are cosmonauts and astronauts. We are professionals. We are not doing