Russian space agency, Roscosmos' chief on Saturday said that it won't accept a second-tier role in a NASA-led plan to build an outpost near the moon. However, spokesman Roscosmos said that the space agency is continuing to stay in the project.
ALSO READ | NASA conducting contest to name the next Mars rover
“Russia wouldn't be reduced to a junior partner in the NASA-led project to build the lunar orbital platform called the Gateway in the 2020s,” said Roscosmos Chief Dmitry Rogozin.
"I believe that Russia can't afford itself to participate in other countries' project on second-tier roles," Rogozin said when asked about the Gateway during a meeting with young space engineers, according to Tass.
“Russia was working to develop heavy-lift rockets that would allow it to build its own orbital platform near the moon, possibly in cooperation with some BRICS countries - a grouping that includes Brazil, China, India and South Africa along with Russia,” he said.
Vladimir Ustimenko, Roscosmos spokesman, later clarified that Rogozin didn't mean to say Russia was bailing out of the NASA-led project.
ALSO READ | Who is Yusaku Maezawa? Meet SpaceX’s first space tourist
"Russia hasn't refused to take part in the project of the lunar orbital station together with the United States," Ustimenko was quoted by Tass as saying. He added, "we stand for equal, partnership-style cooperation."
Earlier this month, Rogozin has raised some consternation by saying that an air leak spotted at the International Space Station was a drill hole that happened during manufacturing or in orbit. He didn't say if he suspected any of the current crew of three Americans, two Russians and a German aboard the station.
(With inputs from agencies)