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ISS, NASA and US National Security dependent on Russian & Ukrainian Rocketry Amidst C

Discussion in 'The Americas' started by sangos, Mar 6, 2014.

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  1. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    [​IMG]
    he International Space Station (ISS) in low Earth orbit
    The sole way for every American and station partner astronaut to fly to space and the ISS is aboard the Russian Soyuz manned capsule since the retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttles in 2011. There are currently NO alternatives to Russia’s Soyuz. Credit: NASA

    Virtually every aspect of the manned and unmanned US space program – including NASA, other government agencies, private aerospace company’s and crucially important US national security payloads – are highly dependent on Russian & Ukrainian rocketry and are therefore potentially at risk amidst the current Crimea crisis as tensions flared up dangerously in recent days between Ukraine and Russia with global repercussions.

    The International Space Station (ISS), astronaut rides to space and back, the Atlas V and Antares rockets and even critical U.S. spy satellites providing vital, real time intelligence gathering are among the examples of programs that may be in peril if events deteriorate or worse yet, spin out of control.

    The Crimean confrontation and all the threats and counter threats of armed conflicts and economic sanctions shines a spotlight on US vulnerabilities regarding space exploration, private industry and US national security programs, missions, satellites and rockets.

    The consequences could be catastrophic for all sides.

    Many Americans are likely unaware of the extent to which the US, Russian and Ukrainian space programs, assets and booster rockets are inextricably intertwined and interdependent.

    First, let’s look at America’s dependency on Russia regarding the ISS.

    The massive orbiting lab complex is a partnership of 15 nations and five space agencies worldwide – including Russia’s Roscosmos and the US NASA. The station is currently occupied by a six person crew of three Russians, two Americans and one Japanese.

    Since the forced retirement of NASA’s space shuttle program in 2011, America completely lost its own human spaceflight capability. So now the only ticket for astronauts to space and back is by way of the Russian Soyuz capsule.

    [​IMG]
    xpedition 38 crew members proudly sport their national flags in this March 2014 picture from the International Space Station. Pictured (clockwise from top center) are Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, commander; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy, NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins, and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, all flight engineers. Credit: NASA

    American and station partner astronauts are 100% dependent on Russia’s three seat Soyuz capsule and rocket for rides to the ISS.

    Russia has a monopoly on reaching the station because the shuttle was shut down by political ‘leaders’ in Washington, DC before a new U.S. manned space system was brought online.

    And congressional budget cutters have repeatedly slashed NASA’s budget, thereby increasing the gap in US manned spaceflight launches from American soil by several years already.

    Congress was repeatedly warned of the consequences by NASA and responded with further reductions to NASA’s budget.

    In a continuation of the normal crew rotation routines, three current crew members are set to depart the ISS in a Soyuz and descend to Earth on Monday, March 10.

    Coincidentally, one of those Russian crew members, Oleg Kotov, was actually born in Crimea when it was part of the former Soviet Union.

    A new three man crew of two Russians and one American is set to blast off in their Soyuz capsule from Russia’s launch pad in Kazakhstan on March 25.

    The U.S. pays Russia $70 million per Soyuz seat under the most recent contact, while American aerospace workers are unemployed.

    The fastest and most cost effective path to restore America’s human spaceflight capability to low Earth orbit and the ISS is through NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) seeking to develop private ‘space taxis’ with Boeing, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada.

    Alas, Congress has sliced NASA’s CCP funding request by about 50% each year and the 1st commercial crew flight to orbit has consequently been postponed by more than three years.

    So it won’t be until 2017 at the earliest that NASA can end its total dependence on Russia’s Soyuz.

    A sensible policy to eliminate US dependence on Russia would be to accelerate CCP, not cut it to the bone, especially in view of the Crimean crisis which remains unresolved as of this writing.

    If U.S. access to Soyuz seats were to be cut off, the implications would be dire and it could mean the end of the ISS.

    When NASA Administrator Chales Bolden was asked about contingencies at a briefing yesterday, March 4, he responded that everything is OK for now.

    “Right now, everything is normal in our relationship with the Russians,†said Bolden.

    “Missions up and down are on target.â€

    “People lose track of the fact that we have occupied the International Space Station now for 13 consecutive years uninterrupted, and that has been through multiple international crises.â€

    “I don’t think it’s an insignificant fact that we are starting to see a number of people with the idea that the International Space Station be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.â€

    But he urged Congress to fully fund CCP and avoid still more delays.

    “Let me be clear about one thing,†Bolden said.

    “The choice here is between fully funding the request to bring space launches back to the US or continuing millions in subsidies to the Russians. It’s that simple. The Obama administration chooses investing in America, and we believe Congress will choose this course as well.â€

    Read more: ISS, NASA and US National Security dependent on Russian & Ukrainian Rocketry Amidst Crimean Crisis
     
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  2. Averageamerican

    Averageamerican Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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  3. INDIAN NATIONALIST

    INDIAN NATIONALIST Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    Re: ISS, NASA and US National Security dependent on Russian & Ukrainian Rocketry Amid

    Russia also depends on the US with regard to collaboration to powering its share of the ISS.

    While tighter regulations and greater compensation for scientists and engineers also means higher overhead costs for the US, I'd still speculate that cutting relations with regard to space programs would also hurt Russia more than the US economically. Russia's economy is still smaller and while it still has some relatively remarkable capacity in high-tech industries (military, aerospace, electronics), it is also less diversified.

    Russia should invest in growing its population, developing industry, and reforming political culture for greater efficiency and professionalism.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
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  4. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    Re: ISS, NASA and US National Security dependent on Russian & Ukrainian Rocketry Amid

    SpaceX is not happening yet soon. It can happen sooner if their paycheck is quadrupled:troll:
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
  5. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    Re: ISS, NASA and US National Security dependent on Russian & Ukrainian Rocketry Amid

    And therefore

     
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