DMITRY ROGOZIN Director General, Roscosmos
Screenshot: Dmitry Rogozin Director General of Roscosmos
Western countries are heavily sanctioning Russia's space program. The European Union has decided to suspend cooperation with Russia on exploring Mars. But the head of Russia's space program, known as "Roscosmos" told CGTN that Moscow's role in space exploration is indispensable.

LI JIANHUA CGTN Reporter "Mr. Rogozin, thank you for accepting our interview. The EU has halted cooperation with Russia on ExoMars. How has this affected the Russian Space Agency and what is the impact on manned space exploration?"

DMITRY ROGOZIN Director General, Roscosmos "It's a cooperative mission. If Russia doesn't join, Europe won't go ahead with the mission, because Russia's contribution to the mission is huge. It is not only about the heavy rockets that send these instruments into orbit and to Mars. It's also about the landing vehicles. These vehicles must help achieve a soft landing on Mars or the research rovers. The module itself is a research station. We have been waiting so long to realize this mission. If it is delayed, it will never happen. They may change Russia's landing module, but that decision could take a lot of time and money."

LI JIANHUA CGTN Reporter "Without international cooperation, will Russia be able to conduct the expedition research on its own?"

DMITRY ROGOZIN Director General, Roscosmos "The problem is when someone does it on their own, it costs a lot of money. It will be a huge burden on the budget. In the construction of ExoMars, the main element is the landing module. The Mars research rover is not the essential element. I think we can make this mission happen with another partner like China or someone else."

LI JIANHUA CGTN Reporter "How about the International Space Station? NASA has said the Russia-US cooperation on the ISS will not be affected by the new sanctions. What's your take on that?"

DMITRY ROGOZIN Director General, Roscosmos "The sanctions have been imposed on Russia to make our economy and high-tech companies suffer, to make our people's lives more difficult, and to bring Russia to its knees. Clearly, it's not possible because of the strength and will of our people and country."

LI JIANHUA CGTN "So let's say there are more sanctions on Russia and Russia decides to withdraw from the ISS programme. You previously warned that the ISS could collapse as a result of the sanctions. I'm quoting you as saying 'if you stop cooperation with us, who will save the 500-ton ISS from going out of control, derailing and falling on Earth.' What's your take on that?"

DMITRY ROGOZIN Director General, Roscosmos "Russia's role is vital. Only Russia's Soyuz spacecraft can transport American, European, Canadian, Japanese astronauts and their guests. Soyuz is irreplaceable, because America doesn't have any spacecraft. Russia helps the international space station avoid space rubbish and maintain orbital correction. The ISS is in a low earth orbit. It helps deliver fuels to the station. These are the main contributions from Russia and Roscomos in particular. So working without Russia is impossible, just like working without America. If they pull us out of this, the ISS wouldn't exist anymore."

LI JIANHUA CGTN Reporter "China's Shenzhou-13 crew are set to come back to Earth in mid-April. What's your comment on their mission? What do you think of China's promise of international cooperation in the future?"

DMITRY ROGOZIN Director General, Roscosmos "We work well with our Chinese friends. We have Glonass, and China's Beidou system was built in orbit not long ago. They are compatible, very compatible. The second project is interesting, which is the International Lunar Research Station. We have signed all the necessary documents with our Chinese friends. Regarding China's space station, we can talk about creating new modules. To be friends in space, we must be friends on Earth. Russia and China are friends on Earth. I think China and Russia can work together in manned cosmonautics."