Colorado astronaut says political tensions with Russia are not affecting International Space Station

DENVER - Political tensions between the United States and Russia are not currently having an impact on astronauts aboard the International Space Station, according to the Colorado astronaut who recently assumed command of the orbiting laboratory.

Earlier this week, a Russian official said cooperation between the two nations wouldn’t extend past 2020 because of United States sanctions imposed in Ukraine.

"Right now we have no change up here from the way we do our operations," Expedition 40 Commander Steve Swanson told 7NEWS Reporter Marc Stewart during an interview via satellite Thursday. "I'm still good friends with my Russian colleagues. The mission controls still work well together. And so as far as we’re concerned, it's the same status quo as it's always been for us. There's no difference"

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Tuesday in tweets and a news conference that American sanctions imposed because of action in Ukraine would boomerang. He tweeted that Russia wouldn't continue cooperating with the United States on the 15-nation International Space Station past 2020, as NASA had hoped.

Rogozin also tweeted that crucial Russian rocket engines would only be shipped to the U.S. for non-military purposes.

NASA currently relies on the Russian Soyuz capsules to fly to and from the station. Swanson is scheduled to return to Earth with his two cosmonaut crewmates in about three months.

"I know there's lot of politics going on, for us there's no difference," he said.

NASA spokesman Allard Beutel said cooperation in space has been a hallmark of U.S.-Russian relations and the agency has not been notified of any changes.

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