In case you didn't know, things have been a little, well, tense in space. The International Space Station (ISS) is a joint effort between NASA and a number of other nations, Russia happens to be one of them. When Russia entered (invaded?) the Ukraine late in February of 2014, the US came out with, what Russia believes, some pretty harsh words. Tensions quickly escalated, and for a time, it seemed that the joint space efforts would come screeching to a halt.
Ultimately, the relationship between the US and Russia is about as low as its been since the end of the Cold War. But there is some good news. Russia and NASA recently agreed to keep operating and financing the ISS for another decade, until at least. 2024.
The head of Russia's Roscosmos space agency, Igor Komarov, made his statements flanked by NASA administrator Charles Bolden at Russia's Baikonur launchpad in Kazakhstan. Moreover, work won't just continue on the ISS. There is some indication that the two nations will also continue to work together on future orbital stations and joint space efforts: "We agreed that the group of countries taking part in the ISS project will work on the future project of a new orbital station," Komarov said.
Although Russia previously asserted that it had plans to start its own space station in 2024 (sans United States), Roscosmos and NASA "do not rule out that the station's flight could be extended," Komarov added.
This seems promising.
But alas, Russia's deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin (who happens to be the gentleman that oversees the space sphere) didn't seem as confidant in the continued relationship. In response, Rogozin wrote on Twitter, "The Russian government will study the results of the talks between Roscosmos and NASA. The decisions will be taken later."
However, NASA also seems to be hopeful (perhaps only cautiously hopeful, but still hopeful) about the future:
We are pleased Roscomos wants to continue full use of the International Space Station through 2024 -- a priority of ours -- and expressed interest in continuing international cooperation for human space exploration beyond that. The United States is planning to lead a human mission to Mars in the 2030s, and we have advanced that effort farther than at any point in NASA's history. We welcome international support for this ambitious undertaking. Today we remain focused on full use of our current science laboratory in orbit and research from the exciting one-year mission astronaut Scott Kelly just began, which will help prepare us for longer duration spaceflight.
And if I may be allowed to offer my own thoughts for a moment, this whole thing is entirely absurd. Of course, I understand not working with a nation if you think they are committing questionable actions. Yet, what the government does and what a science agency does are absolutely not one and the same. It seems that there should be a way to keep the two separate.
In the end, if we aren't going to have "one world government," we should at least be able to have "one world space agency." Right? Can we please just make the United Federation of Planets already? .
..though to be fair, I suppose we should probably at least make it to Mars first.