19:47 GMT18 February 2020
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    COLORADO SPRINGS (Sputnik) - The United States and Russia are on a path to jointly explore deep space and will most likely fly to Mars together, former NASA astronaut Ronald M. Sega told Sputnik.

    "I think we are on a path to work together to go on to different places in space. Mars is a logical major milestone forward," Sega said. "We may have a different path to get there. Maybe to the Moon or something like that. My sense is that we’ll go to Mars, we’ll eventually probably do that together."

    When asked about the future of US-Russia cooperation in space amid the worsening relations between the two countries, Sega emphasized, "We have always worked together in space."

    "The scientists and so forth have worked together in space even during kinds of ups and downs that the nations may have," Saga said.

    Sega noted his first flight to space was with Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev on the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1994. He described the flight as a "great experience" and added it is "better to collaborate with those in the space community."

    "We move together in knowledge and knowledge should be available to help lots of folks," Saga said. "We’ve done much better on terms of communicating to each other because of communication satellites. We’ve done much better in terms of having weather satellites and so space has been very beneficial to people. I think if we continue to do that, it helps lots of people."

    Despite the deterioration of relations between Russia and the United States, space cooperation continues to flourish. In September, Roscosmos and NASA reached an agreement to build a gateway to future deep space missions in lunar orbit. The gateway's segment that Russia intends to build will serve as an exit for cosmonauts going on spacewalks.

    In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia is planning manned and unmanned space launches, to explore deep space, the Moon and Mars exploration. The first lunar mission could come as early as next year.

    Russia also plans to look for traces of life on the Mars together with the European Space Agency.


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