Russia will bar the USA from using its rocket engines to launch military satellites in retaliation for sanctions on high-tech equipment imposed over the Ukraine crisis.
Making the announcement today, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin also said Russia would reject a US request to prolong the use of the International Space Station beyond 2020. Russian Soyuz spacecraft are the only way astronauts can get to the space station, whose crews include both Americans and Russians.
In addition, the operation of GPS satellite navigation system sites in Russia will be suspended from June and Moscow will seek talks with Washington on opening similar sites in the US for Russia's own sat-nav system, Glonass, threatening the permanent closure of the Russian sites if this is not agreed by September.
Moscow pledged to respond in kind when the US said last month that it would deny export licences for any high-tech items that could aid Russian military capabilities and would revoke existing licences.
The measures to limit the use of Russia's rocket engines would affect NK-33 and RD-180 engines which the US rely on to launch military and civilian satellites into space. Washington recently will invest $220m (£130m) in development of a next-generation liquid-fuel rocket engine but this is unlikely to be ready before 2020.
"We are ready to deliver these engines but on one condition that they will not be used to launch military satellites," said Rogozin speaking at a news conference today.
Washington wants to keep the International Space Station, a $100bn orbital outpost that is a project of 15 nations and a showcase of Russian-US cooperation, flying until at least 2024, four years beyond the previous target.
In spite of differences on foreign policy and security matters, Washington and Moscow have cooperated extensively on space exploration, but rising tensions over the on-going situation in Ukraine are threatening this common ground.
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