The International Space Station Ownership and the ISS Agreement ~ Kwentology

The current tensions between Russia and the United States may be growing fast. They may start to affect the International Space Station. Some news outlets reported that Russia threatened to ban the United States from the ISS. This turned out to be untrue. But, it does bring up the question, ''who owns the International Space Station?"

Who Really Owns the International Space Station?

Well, as a whole, no one country owns the ISS. It is a cooperative program between;
  • United States
  • Russia
  • Canada
  • Japan
And members of the European Space Agency, which include 20 different European countries.
  1. Austria
  2. Belgium
  3. Czech Republic
  4. Denmark
  5. Finland
  6. France
  7. Germany
  8. Greece
  9. Ireland
  10. Italy
  11. Luxembourg
  12. The Netherlands
  13. Norway
  14. Poland
  15. Portugal
  16. Romania
  17. Spain
  18. Sweden
  19. Switzerland
  20. United Kingdom
They each signed the International Space Station Intergovernmental Agreement in 1998. This document created the international partnership for the design, development and operation of the ISS. So, those are the countries involved in the ISS, but again, no one really owns it as a whole.

Instead, each country has legal ownership over sections of the labs, and the individual hardware and equipment that they provided to the ISS. This gives each country jurisdiction over criminal matters, liability issues and protection of intellectual property.

USA and Russia Sections

The ISS is broken into two segments the US side and the Russian side. The US side houses three main labs, each owned by a different space program:
  • The Columbus module, owned by the European Space Agency
  • Kibo, owned by Japan
  • Destiny, owned by the U.S.
Each Space Program has made agreements on how much they can utilize each others labs.

The Russian side is 100% controlled by Russia, which includes five modules:
  • Zarya, which was the first segment of the ISS.
  • Zvezda, which includes living quarters, two airlock modules.
  • Rassvet, a storage and docking module.
Russia also controls the Soyuz spacecraft, which is the only way to shuttle people to and from the ISS. That is the important thing to note because Russia has hinted at ending cooperation with the ISS in 2020 and possibly starting construction on their own space station as early as 2017.

This would put a serious damper on any future ISS plans the United States may have, which is troubling because the United States has already pledged money to extend their work on the ISS to 2024.
Image of the international space station ownership
Whether they like it or not, when it comes to the International Space Station, the United States does depend heavily on Russia, so some sort of understanding between the two sides will eventually have to be reached.

About Author:

Crislene loves Biology. Spending her time much on reading ebooks in different fields of science. Shares facts and trivia while on Facebook. Get connected and like her page on Facebook Kwentologist.

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