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Russian space chief says US shutdown delayed NASA visit
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Jan 9, 2019

Russia's space agency chief on Wednesday said his trip to the US was postponed by NASA due to the government agency falling "victim" to the ongoing shutdown, rather than a diplomatic snub.

Head of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin, a firebrand nationalist politician known for his anti-Western rhetoric, was set to visit the US in February.

His agency reacted furiously last week after NASA said it was postponing the visit indefinitely.

He has now apparently been appeased by an explanation from NASA, whose chief Jim Bridenstine visited Russia in October and praised bilateral cooperation.

"We understand that this situation is a fragment of the battle between (US) Congress and (President Donald) Trump," Rogozin told state channel Rossiya 24.

"NASA is a victim of this battle," he said, adding that Russia understands the US space agency to be "in favour of developing cooperation with Russia", particularly on a potential Moon base.

"We are also interested in working with the Americans, although we would like to see in them a predictable partner," he said, saying the current situation "leaves a bad aftertaste".

NASA is one of the government agencies affected by the partial government shutdown forced by Trump's refusal to sign off on a Congress-approved spending bill that does not include his $5.6 billion request to build a giant wall on the US-Mexican border.

Most NASA workers are among the 800,000 government employees left without pay in the process, as 96 percent of the agency's staff are considered non-essential.

Government-employed scientists, including from NASA, cannot even attend major conferences such as this week's American Astronomical Society's meeting, an AAS spokesman told AFP.

The delayed visit risked becoming another diplomatic row with Russia after Roscosmos demanded an explanation at the weekend.

Some US lawmakers spoke out against inviting the Russian space chief, who is formally on a US blacklist.

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Roscosmos chief's visit to US in keeping with historical norms
Moscow (Sputnik) Jan 04, 2019
NASA defended its invitation to Roscosmos Director-General Dmitry Rogozin to speak at the space agency's Houston headquarters in early 2019 from detractors in Washington who say the sanctioned Russian official's visit "sends the wrong message." "The US/Russian relationship in space dates back to the 1970s," NASA spokeswoman Megan Powers said in a statement to Politico January 1. "NASA has historically invited the head of the Russian space agency to visit the United States. Following this pre ... read more

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