Everyone knows that there are tensions with Russia that have existed for years. At what point do they stop cooperating with NASA and the USG in general? Have there never been worries about what cosmonauts could do to our US astronauts in space? Or that the Russian government could do to our astronauts on ground, or in an "anomalous" instance in route to the ISS? I know cosmonauts used to carry a "survival" handgun of some sort… if they still did, and tensions were at their highest, would it not be dangerous to still fly on their rocket, go with their cosmonauts, etc.? Or are the cosmonauts joined in a common mission with the other astronauts, ignoring what the temperamental political leaders of the day are doing? I can see a camaraderie amongst astronauts, so maybe they are ignoring what our leaders are doing?

I know this is all far-fetched, but if some giant debacle happened with syria/north korea/etc, nukes start flying, would Russia send up a transmission to the cosmonauts to do something in space? Obviously we would stop going to the ISS until Commercial Crew, but how would our astronauts get down?


closed as primarily opinion-based by Jan Doggen, LocalFluff, called2voyage Apr 13 '17 at 13:09

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ I can't speak to all astronauts, but, to me, this feels akin to asking whether an American and a Russian physicist working in the same lab (and who already have an ongoing professional relationship) would suddenly assault each other if their government's relations deteriorated. I hope you can see how unlikely this sounds, and I suspect that's why you were downvoted. $\endgroup$ – Bear Apr 13 '17 at 12:58
  • $\begingroup$ I vote to close because it is a political question. We all have our opinions and beliefs about what our "leaders" will and should do. This is not the place to discuss that. $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff Apr 13 '17 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ Well, "At what point do they stop cooperating with NASA and the USG in general?" - at the point when their governments force them to stop cooperating, no earlier than that. And when that happens? Definitely not a space-related question. $\endgroup$ – SF. Apr 13 '17 at 14:12
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    $\begingroup$ In 1975, in the middle of the Cold War when tension between the US and USSR was much higher than it is now, they conducted a space mission together: the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo%E2%80%93Soyuz_Test_Project $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Apr 13 '17 at 17:56

The ISS exists because neither Russia nor the US was able/willing to finance a space station on its own at the time. That it exists at all is a testament that large political differences can be overcome to reach a common goal (as is CERN, btw.).

Now they are bound by treaties (also with other countries) and as long they don't get into a direct war, it's unlikely that they will break those as both are still benefitting from their cooperation: neither nation would be able to keep the ISS afloat alone. For example, Russia lacks funding, the US lacks a crew vehicle. Russia does have plans for a space station after ISS (which involves reusing Russian parts of the ISS), but it's still a long way there. It's not possible to undock the Russian section and keep it in space right now, as far as I know.

As for the astronauts, as far as I have heard they are usually very friendly to each other. In Germany, there's a saying: "Sie sitzen alle im selben Boot." which translates to "They all sit in the same boat." That's quite literally the case with ISS: they live in a small area and cannot reasonably avoid each other, much less leave when they like to. So it's in everyone's best interest to get along. Besides, I have often heard astronauts say you get a different view when being in space: both literally and figuratively. You can't see borders from space (well, only a few… like North Korea at night).


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