VLADIMIR Putin's space chief has been caught out for WRONGLY saying the International Space Station does not fly over Russia in a recent spat.
Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin dramatically threatened to drop the ISS onto the US or Europe last week, in response to sanctions over the Ukraine invasion.
Russian engines control the station's propulsion and keep it afloat.
Writing on Twitter he boasted to the West that the ISS "does not fly over Russia, therefore all the risks are yours".
But space experts say his claim is incorrect, pointing out that the space station routinely skirts past southern regions of Russia.
Tracker data shows that the ISS flies over land that borders with Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, and North Korea.
Some suspect Rogozin actually meant the ISS doesn't fly over parts of Russia of significance to President Putin, particularly the Kremlin, which is well out of its flight path.
"It doesn't fly over the parts of Russia that the oligarchs care about," one observer said.
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The embarrassing gaffe comes as space relations feel the strain, despite the long-held view that space matters rise above politics.
Russia has already suspended cooperation with European launch officials and has withdrawn personnel from Europe's main spaceport in French Guiana.
Tensions have also hit a joint Mars mission to uncover signs of life.
Scientists had intended to carry on "business as usual" but the European Space Agency has said the planned launch for 2022 now looks "very unlikely".
Nasa is weighing up its options to keep the ISS afloat without Russian help.
The US and Russia are the two main parties involved in the 23-year-old project.
Elon Musk has said SpaceX will rescue the ISS if Russia does try to drop it from orbit.
Kathy Lueders,head of Nasa's human spaceflight program, said: "Our SpaceX folks are looking at can we have additional capability.
"We’re not getting any indications at a working level that our counterparts are not committed.
"That said, we always look for how do we get more operational flexibility and our cargo providers are looking at how do we add different capabilities."
But she also warned: "It would be very difficult for us to be operating on our own – ISS is an international partnership that was created … with joint dependencies."
All you need to know about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Everything you need to know about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine…
- Why is Russia invading Ukraine?
- Will the UK go to war?
- How can I join the Ukraine foreign legion?
- What can I do to help Ukraine?
- Who is Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy?
- How much gas does the UK get from Russia?
- Is Russia a part of Nato?
- Does Russia have nuclear weapons?
- Why is Ukraine not in Nato?
- How big is the Russian army?
- What is Article 5 of the Nato treaty?
- What is the Minsk agreement?
- Which countries were in the Soviet Union?
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