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Hitch a ride with the Russians?
July 21, 2011 - Michael Palmer
Through tragedy and triumph, after more than 30 years, 135 missions and milestones, America's space shuttle era comes to an end.
Once the space shuttle program ends, NASA will have to rely solely on Russia to get astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
Now, however, the price tag for those exclusive services are going up. Surprise!
NASA signed a new contract in March, in which a government which claims that the debt ceiling is dooming us all into economic Armageddon, promised to pay the Russian Federal Space Agency a cool $63 million per astronaut in 2014 and 2015.
Six seats on the Soyuz rockets have already been reserved for NASA at just under $56 million pet seat under the old contract, which runs through 2014, quite a bargain considering Virgin Airlines does not yet have their service to space available.
Until now, NASA has been able to use both the Soyuz and space shuttles to ferry astronauts back and forth from the International Space Station. However, thanks to the trillions of dollars we have wasted to bail out sub-prime lending bandits.
But I do not believe that the space race is over. Vitaly Davydov of the Russian Space Agency does not believe Russia has necessarily “won the space race” but rather that “one stage has ended.” He also voiced his wish to work together with the U.S. in future space programs.
NASA said it is really cranking up work on a new Space Exploration vehicle. Cooperative technology with the new Russia is fine with me, it is a good way to get their business and technology sector involved with our capitalist research and development industry. Very heart warming for me, as a believer in traditional American values, and it might be beneficial for the two former Cold War opponents to work together towards the betterment of mankind. Especially after they so well proved for the fifth time in history that Communism, like Socialism, is a system doomed for failure. (Are you paying attention China?)
We need to get started immediately though. If indeed making our astronautics ride on ancient Soyuz rockets is better than using our aging but reasonably reliable space shuttles, I hope they are safer than they look. Have you ever watched the news and see how they land those things in Central Asia on the return? OUCH!
The administration in Washington scrapped the NASA Constellation program. It could have been a program worth a second look, because it uses mostly existing technology and would keep us in space using our vehicles, which at least would serve as a good back up plan as if the Soviets have issues.
Let’s face it, if we were in space with a limited supply of food, having a plan B to come and bring supplies or return us to Earth would be comforting.
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