Monday, April 7, 2014

A Short-Sighted Decision: NASA Suspends Cooperation With Russians in Space

US astronaut Steven Swanson, left, and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov prepare for their launch to the International Space Station last month.
American astronaut Steve Swanson (left) and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skorvtsov, appear last month before their Soyuz launch to the International Space Station.

Evidently, the Russian annexation of Crimea is still eating away at Amerikkan exceptionalists and inspiring more pique and petulance. Like spoiled brats that just can't have their own way, and because  they can no longer bully another nation (which isn't prepared to tolerate their bullshit) they have to find new ways to take their toys away and run home. BWAAAAA....Them bad Russians pickin' on we!

The latest example, which I put under the category of 'supremely stupid' is demanding NASA discontinue its relationship with its Russian counterpart agency, Roscosmos.

After insisting that space relations would not be altered by earthly politics, NASA on Wednesday said it was severing ties with Russia over the Ukraine crisis, except for the International Space Station. (Of course, without the Russians and their Soyuz, we'd never be able to get our people there because like goons we mothballed our only means of transport - the Space Shuttle - cutting thousands of jobs at Cape Kennedy with it)

Can you say hypocrites?

The result of this latest pique? 

- NASA employees cannot travel to Russia or host visitors until further notice.

- They are also barred from emailing or holding teleconferences with their Russian counterparts

In other words, no further cross-fertilization regarding space issues or problems. How fuckin' dumb is this? Pretty fuckin' dumb!

All this is because of Russia's actions in Ukraine, according to a memo sent to NASA  workers. But hey- all activities related to the space station are exempt. NASA and Russia's space agency will "continue to work together to maintain safe and continuous operation" of the space station, NASA said in a statement released late on Wednesday.

Why? Because we can't get our own asses to the station without the assistance of the Russians! Since the  absurd early retirement of the space shuttle, NASA  has depended on Russia to hitch rides to the giant orbiting outpost, paying nearly $71m per trip for a seat on the Soyuz. A Russian rocket last week delivered three astronauts, including American Steve Swanson. The laboratory is a partnership of the US, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada. US astronauts train in Russia before flying to the space station and the new directive was not expected to affect that.

Previously NASA had insisted US-Russia space relations were fine despite the tensions over Ukraine.  NASA administrator Charles Bolden said on 4 March:

"Right now, everything is normal in our relationship with the Russians,".

NASA reiterated the sentiment last week after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine, saying:

"We do not expect the current Russia-Ukraine situation to have an impact on our longstanding civil space co-operation with Russia, which goes back decades,"

After the memo leaked on Wednesday, NASA confirmed it was suspending most contact with Russia. But it also took a swipe at Congress, noting that it wouldn't be relying on Russia to fly to the space station if funding had not been cut. The space agency said it was looking at private rocket companies to ferry astronauts in 2017. Yeah, right. If NASA thinks the private bunch will be ready by then they're really smoking some strong stuff!

Space policy experts said they were not surprised with the latest guideline because similar memos suspending Russian contact went out to other federal agencies.  Which leads me to believe it wasn't NASA's idea but it came from the Obama White House, still smarting at numerous barbs from the Likes of John McInsane and others that they aren't doing enough to thwart the Russkies.

Earlier, recall that Congress and NATO took steps to "punish Russia" for its actions in Ukraine by sending Obama a bill to provide $1bn in loan guarantees to Ukraine and add to sanctions against Russia.  These dumb maggots have a billion to piss away on Ukraine but see no problem in slicing billions from the food stamps program so OUR kids starve at night!

NATO''s  warmongering clique of foreign ministers ordered an end to civilian and military cooperation with Russia, which doubtless presaged the NASA move, or rather the WH order mandating it.
Scott Pace, space policy director at George Washington University, said it was noteworthy that co-operation on the space station remained intact. He said:

"We and the Russians have a very deep and integrated relationship. We are reliant on them as they are on us. Divorce is not an option."

Pace said there would probably be disruptions for NASA scientists who trade data or work on experiments with Russian researchers. Again, that's why it's a stupid, self-mutilating move that could well impinge on the safety of U.S. astronauts. But do our hare-brained politicos care, so long as they can posture? Hell no!

Former Johnson Space Center Director George Abbey had this to say in a recent interview:

"It’s been very disappointing. Everyone that I’ve spoken with, my fellow colleagues – both engineers and scientists – were quite disappointed. We don’t think it’s a very wise decision and it certainly can affect the safety of operations in space. When you’re flying on an International Space Station you want to enhance cooperation and enhance communication, so when you start taking actions to lessen those communications, it’s not a very safe action and it’s not a very wise thing to do. "

Of course, for our posturing poltroons, none of that matters. So long as they can get one more petulant dig at the Russians, they will risk the lives of whatever American astronauts - devil take the hindmost. It's all about politics in the end, and if you peel back the layers enough - you will see the telltale traces of the Neoliberal imperative.


Volodymyr Mykhaylyuk said...

I am sorry for you and your shortsighted article. Don't you think USA should start do space cooperation with North Korea, as soon as they able to sell some cheap rockets? Russia is our enemy No1 and most russian population is programed from childhood by really nasty propaganda about west, USA and Europe, majority of them not even trying to think or question it. Visit any russian website and read the comments to any their article somehow related to USA.
I believe, it would be much wiser to pay SpaceX and Co double for speed up of their Dragon development, so we would not be dependent on russia.
Unlike you, my knowledge of russia formed from real life in USSR, not from who've been a Hypocrite?

Copernicus said...

Sorry, your post is totally irrational. North Korea (a still communist nation) is nothing like Russia (now a putatively capitalist nation) last I checked. Have you? Or are you still living in the Cold War era?

No one in his right mind would find common cause with an unhinged dictator like the one in NK. Meanwhile, as my blog post showed - if you actually read the whole thing instead of cherry picking what you didn't like - NASA and its Russian counterpart had been carrying on cooperative ventures to do with the ISS for YEARS!

The point - which obviously escaped you - is that such disconnection, based on politics, is not conducive to the well being, welfare of our own astronauts. No, I am not the 'hypocrite' here, as I noted, that monicker goes to all those who would sacrifice our astronauts welfare out of some political pique.

Further, last I checked (maybe you ought to as well) the primary enemy of the U.S. is Al Qaeda, not Russia. Russia, thanks to Putin, actually helped to negotiate a temporary peace in Syria instead of the U.S. warhawks entering into yet another war it can't afford (which is one reason our space program has had to be cut - too many wars of choice.)

Clearly, you may have lived in Russia or the former USSR but you have no clue about this country and how IT has mutated into the biggest threat on this planet - via expanding its Neoliberal mandate and often, via force of arms to expedite that.

Oh, btw, I have "visited" Russian sites such as and actually find their views MORE balanced that the corrupt, Neoliberal brainwashing media of the U.S. They cull their information from more sources, and they are often more reliable over all.

If you don't see that, fine, but again maybe it's because you are blind to who the real threat is these days.

Copernicus said...

One more thing, Space-X is a pale imitation of the NASA -government funded space program we once had until too many wars of choice made it unaffordable. (Something you won't read about in our co-opted Western media).

There is no way, given the lack of resources and personnel, Space X will be ferrying American astronauts any time soon. They forecast have such a craft ready by 2017 but I say they are full of it.

Space X will remain basically a robot, unmanned ferry craft to the ISS for at least the next ten years if not longer. When Obama shut down Cape Kennedy he also lost a lot of the same experienced personnel who could have provided an updated alternative to the Shuttle.

Copernicus said...

Another item from today's paper (Denver Post). Space X is filing suit against Colorado based UAL which has an AIR FORCE contract worth $70b to use Russian-made rocket engines.

Hmmmmm......wonder why that is? Because they're MORE RELIABLE! As a UAL spokesperson put it: "We've been using them (in Atlas rockets) for twenty years now".

So why would the AF give a contract to Space X? Well, because they don't believe that outfit is ready yet to handle its ELVP (Expendable Launch Vehicle Program) demands.

Instead of squallering like brats and babies whose nappies are soiled, Elon Musk and Space X need to show how and why they can deliver better quality engines than the Russian ones used by UAL.