War in Ukraine | Conflict echoes in space

A German telescope installed on a Russian satellite is tempting. The Big Boss of the Russian space agency has, in fact, threatened to take control of the device, which has been on standby for three months, due to the Ukraine invasion. First in space law.

Posted at 7:00 am

Matthew Perialt

Matthew Perialt
The press


“I ordered the resumption of German telescope operations on the Specter-RG satellite,” said Dmitry Rogzin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. “Those who have decided to shut down the telescope have no moral right to stop this important study for humanity, because their fascist views are close to those of our enemies.”

Photo taken from roscosmos website

Impressions are gained in a fluid, global, diffused way

The militant statement, made on Russian television and reported by the German radio station Deutsche Welle, was mitigated by the lack of cooperation from the Russian Academy of Sciences. An official told the Russian news agency Gazette that the reopening of the German Erosita telescope was not desirable. Mr Rogzin countered that the Roscosmos were ready to do the job without the help of Russian astronomers.


Photo courtesy of the Max Planck Institute website

Peter Predel of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics is the chief scientist at the Erosita Telescope.

The Erosita telescope could be “destroyed” if it were to be revived without the help of German researchers. The press Peter Predel of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, chief scientist of German instruments. The Russian Academy of Sciences had the same concern, along with the fear that scientific results obtained without German cooperation would not be accepted by academic publications.

Does Germany have legal means against Russia? “It all depends on the agreement,” said Quan-Wei Chen, director of McGill University’s Center for Air and Space Research. “It simply came to our notice then. According to space law, the interests of other countries must be taken into account. So Russia, in general, will have to compensate Germany if it damages a German instrument. A

A politician in charge

Photo from NASA website

Jim Brydenstein, then NASA administrator and Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, during a 2018 collaboration with Baikonur

Veteran of the Transnistrian war, leader of a far-right party, ambassador to NATO, author of a book on the “betrayal” of the Alaska sale … Dmitry Rogozin had no luck being the great boss of the Russian space program, a position he has held since 2011. “He is more of a politician than an administrator or a scientist,” said Mr Chen.

Among other threats, Mr Rogzin has announced several times since February that Russia could withdraw from the management of the International Space Station, which would condemn its untimely death. His philosophy is not excluded: In March, former American astronaut Scott Kelly announced on Twitter that Roscosmos would have no value without the proceeds from transporting Western astronauts to Soyuz. “Perhaps you can find yourself a job at McDonald’s if McDonald’s still exists in Russia,” Kelly said.

Galactic embryos and black holes

Image courtesy of the Max Planck Institute website

Image of the sky unveiled by the eROSITA team in 2020

Launched in 2019, the German Erosita X-ray Telescope aims to discover 100,000 star clusters, 700,000 stars and 3 million galaxy embryos in seven years.

In 2020, the eROSITA team released a picture revealing features never seen before in the Milky Way: Mushroom-like gas bubbles and intergalactic gases flow toward the center of our galaxy. The discovery of 3 million black holes was announced last summer.

Other missions on ice

Image taken from the European Space Agency’s website

Impressions are gained in a fluid, global, diffused way

The most significant effect of the freezing of space relations between Russia and the West was the postponement of the launch of the Rosalind Franklin space mission, which included a Russian lander. The launch was scheduled for fall. Roscosmos has also suspended a deal to launch a Soyuz cargo ship on the International Space Station (from the Arian rocket in French Guiana) and suspended support for Russian RD rocket engines used by the American agency United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Northrop Grumman’s launcher. The latter uses it for its cargo Cygnus, which also works on the space station. Finally, the British satellite internet firm OneWeb, which will launch dozens of satellites from a Russian launcher from Baikonur spaceport this year, has decided to find another way to go into orbit.

The example of Canada

  • The remains of the 1978 Soviet military satellite Cosmos 954 are being searched

    Photo from the National Archives

    The remains of the 1978 Soviet military satellite Cosmos 954 are being searched

  • Debris from the Cosmos 954 satellite

    Photo from the National Archives

    Debris from the Cosmos 954 satellite

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In 1978, the Soviet military satellite Cosmos 954 crashed in the northwest. Its radioactive fuel leaks into the environment, requiring a massive clean-up operation. Canada sued the USSR to recover this refining cost, eventually CAD 3 million, half of the amount claimed. “So far, this is the only example of a space-related international pursuit,” Chen said.

Learn more

  • 4 billion US
    Roscosmos was paid by NASA to shut down the American space shuttle in 2011 and to transport American astronauts to the space station during the first flight of the SpaceX Dragon Capsule in 2020.

    Source: NASA

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