Skip to main content

Russia suspends Soyuz launches from Europe spaceport over EU sanctions

The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, has announced it is halting launches of its Soyuz rockets from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana in response to sanctions from the European Union due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The EU imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Russia this week following missile and troop attacks on Ukrainian cities in what the EU described as an “unprovoked, unjustified invasion.”

“In response to EU sanctions against our enterprises, Roscosmos is suspending cooperation with European partners in organizing space launches from the Kourou cosmodrome and withdrawing its personnel, including the consolidated launch crew, from French Guiana,” head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, wrote in a tweet translated from Russian, first reported by

Russian Soyuz rockets are regularly used by the European Space Agency (ESA) to launch scientific missions, and the Soyuz at the Guiana Space Centre program has been operating since 2011. As pointed out by SpaceNews, in the short term, this will affect the launch of Galileo navigation satellites scheduled for April this year, as well as other missions like the launch of ESA’s EUCLID telescope.

This is not the first time that Russia has threatened to revoke access to its rockets in protest of sanctions from the international community. In 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and the U.S. imposed economic sanctions, Russian officials threatened to stop letting U.S. astronauts launch to the International Space Station (ISS) using Russian rockets. At the time, the Space Shuttle program had been retired and the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule had not yet been developed, so Russian rockets were the only way the U.S. had to ferry its astronauts to the station. In that case, Russia did continue to carry U.S. astronauts, and now the U.S has its own capabilities with the SpaceX Crew Dragon.

The current situation also raises questions about the future of the ISS. The current contract requires the ongoing operation of the ISS until 2024, but NASA and other agencies hope to keep the station running until 2031. If Russia pulls out and declines to continue supporting the ISS, the end of the space station could come much sooner. Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos, has also made threats about how the station could be subject to an “uncontrolled deorbit” without the Russian segment of the station providing guidance and navigation, though these threats are generally not taken seriously due to the presence of Russian cosmonauts on the station.

Editors' Recommendations

Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
Watch SpaceX footage of Falcon Heavy from launch to landing
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy heading to space.

SpaceX recently shared an incredible 90-second video showing a rocket’s-eye view of a Falcon 9 booster from launch to landing. The sped-up footage went viral and has so far racked up 60 million views on Twitter alone.

Now the spaceflight company has released a similar video showing Sunday’s mission that involved its more powerful, triple-booster Falcon Heavy rocket.

Read more
Russia reveals plan to rescue three space station crewmates
Russia's Soyuz spacecraft leaking coolant at the space station.

Russian space agency Roscosmos will send an empty spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) in late February to bring home three crewmembers -- Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitry Petelin, and Francisco Rubio

The agency has been considering several options after the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft sustained a leak in December while it was docked at the ISS, causing the vehicle to lose a large amount of coolant.

Read more
NASA sticks with Artemis I launch despite minor damage from Hurricane Nicole
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop the mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B, Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Teams began walkdowns and inspections at the pad to assess the status of the rocket and spacecraft after the passage of Hurricane Nicole.

NASA has announced that the Space Launch System rocket is still set to be launched for the Artemis I mission this week, despite suffering "very minor damage" during Hurricane Nicole.

The rocket was out on the launchpad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida when the hurricane struck last week, as rolling it back inside its building was deemed to be too risky. During a previous launch attempt which was stymied by Hurricane Ian, the rocket was returned to its building, but this time it was decided it would be safer left where it was.

Read more