Russia Blocks the U.S. in Space over Ukraine

Russia Blocks the U.S. in Space over Ukraine

Russia’s deputy prime minister, Dmitry Rogozin, announced today that Moscow was going to reject a request by the United States to extend our use of the International Space Station beyond the initial agreement date of 2020.  The U.S. was hoping to extend the agreement until 2024, but in retaliation for the U.S. and EU sanctions against Russia over the ongoing Ukraine crisis, Russia is slamming the door in our faces.

Oh, and by the way, Russia is currently the only way  that we can get astronauts to the ISS right now, thanks to the space shuttle program ending in 2011.

I recently took my children to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  While they were awed and impressed by the amount of rockets and shuttles and artifacts from the space race and the visits to the moon, it was downright depressing for me, because I realized that the space program holds almost zero relevance to my kids.  What was once a huge part of the national consciousness and pride – our ability to send men and women into space – is now nothing but ancient history to my children.

model
Model of the space shuttle on the launch pad, from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Raise your hand if you expected our hashtags and sanctions against Russia over Ukraine to go completely unnoticed by Moscow.

Putin is going to stick it to the United States any way he can.  I’m only surprised that it took Moscow this long to make this decision.  And we PAY them to fly our astronauts to the space station… $60 million dollars for each trip:

Rogozin said Moscow was planning strategic changes in its space industry after 2020 and aimed to use money and intellectual resources that now go to the space station for a project “with more prospects”.

He also suggested Russia could use the station without the US. “The Russian segment can exist independently from the American one. The US one cannot,” he said.

Nasa is working with companies to develop space taxis with the goal of restoring US transport to the station by 2017, and in the meantime the US pays Russia more than $60m per person to fly its astronauts to the station.

You laughed in Mitt Romney’s face, President Obama.  But the 1980’s are back.  Vladimir Putin is playing by Cold War rules and he called your bluff, because you and NASA believed he’d never do this.  You’d better think about having a better plan than hashtags to deal with him.  And getting an order in to SpaceX would be a very good idea.

 

 

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1 Comment
  • wfjag says:

    “What was once a huge part of the national consciousness and pride – our ability to send men and women into space – is now nothing but ancient history to my children.” [and] “And we PAY them [Russia] to fly our astronauts to the space station… $60 million dollars for each trip”

    People on food stamps and other welfare probably don’t care (or understand) about the importance of space exploration and the advances in technology the space program generated, but, do see discontinuing the payments to Russia as increasing the pool of money available to be given them. Don’t expect much outrage.

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