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#1 2008-03-08 01:42:31

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: US reliance on Russian access to space

Growing Crowd Joining Weldon To Criticize Plan to Cede Space Leadership to Russians and Chinese

Washington, Mar 7 - As the point of no return has been approaching for termination of the space shuttle program, Rep. Dave Weldon has been trumpeting concern and drawing attention to the Bush Administration’s disastrous decision to leave America without direct human access to space for years. Finally, there is a growing chorus of officials joining Weldon’s foresight.

In today’s Washington Post, a front-page article entitled, NASA Wary of Relying on Russia:  Moscow Soon to Be Lone Carrier of Astronauts to the Space Station, echoes the perspective that Weldon has been voicing for many months now.

“For five years or more, the United States will be dependent on the technology of others to reach the (international space) station, which American taxpayers largely paid for.  To complicate things further, the only nation now capable of flying astronauts to the space station is Russia, giving it a strong bargaining position to decide what it wants to charge for the flights at a time when U.S. – Russian relations are becoming increasing testy,” the story says.  “Given Russia’s recent track record, it is also likely that Russia will use this advantage to extort geopolitical concessions from the United States government; concessions that will remain hidden from public view.”

Adding to the list of concerned voices, NASA Administrator Mike Griffin recently admitted that the issue puts the United States in a strategically dangerous position and that it is his “greatest regret and concern” that America will be essentially shut out of space for a period of at least five years.  This “space gap” is the period that will extend from the retirement of the space Shuttle program in 2010 until 2015, at the earliest, when the next manned program, Orion will launch.

Griffin added, “We will be largely dependent on the Russians, and that is a terrible place for the United States to be.  I’m worried, and many others are worried.”

They should be.  While Rep. Weldon has been consistently trumpeting the danger of the Administration’s position to leave the U.S. at a tremendous technological, scientific, and military disadvantage, others have sat by and watched, even making statements that make one wonder if they really understood what was at stake.

“This is one the biggest strategic blunders I’ve seen.  While I have supported the Administration on many decisions, this is one of it’s worst.  Leaving America without access to space for 5 years or more, they have essentially ceded the ‘ultimate high ground’ to the Russians and Chinese, who have not exactly been our closest allies.  We must change course immediately.  We can’t sit back, make apologies, and hope for the best.”

Weldon has taken the lead role in urging Congress to close the space gap from both ends by addition funding to (1) extend the Shuttle program on a limited basis to resupply the ISS and (2) bring the Constellation program on line sooner. 

“Flying manned space missions is a calculated risk, but so is leaving our nation’s ‘space flank’ exposed.  NASA has and does go to extreme lengths to ensure the highest level of safety, and that effort can continue past 2010, for a few extra Shuttle launches,” added Weldon.

The SPACE Act, H.R. 4837, authored by Weldon authorizes additional funding to help deliver Orion earlier than the currently planned 2015 date.

As the Washington Post article suggests, the risk is that “the price will be paid not only in billions of dollars, but also in lost American prestige and lost leverage on the Russians when it comes to issues such as aiding Iran with its nuclear program.”


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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#2 2008-03-08 04:54:11

Terraformer
Member
From: Logres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,344
Website

Re: US reliance on Russian access to space

I'll probably get yelled at here for saying this  8) , but how much would be saved if NASA devoted itself just to human spaceflight (ie. No Mars Probes, etc)? Enough to close the gap? Enough to give more cash in the COTS contracts to get a commercial crew vehicle?

How much of NASAs budget goes to Human Spaceflight?


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#3 2008-03-08 09:17:45

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: US reliance on Russian access to space

I'll probably get yelled at here for saying this  8) , but how much would be saved if NASA devoted itself just to human spaceflight (ie. No Mars Probes, etc)? Enough to close the gap? Enough to give more cash in the COTS contracts to get a commercial crew vehicle?

How much of NASAs budget goes to Human Spaceflight?

No yelling, promise smile

NASA spends about 2/3 of its budget on human spaceflight (Shuttle, ISS and Exploration) and 1/3 on Science on Aeronautics. Griffin has said he can't close the gap by much more than two years even with unlimited money because of the technical time line. If he gets full funding to reduce the gap the first crew could be flying to ISS in 2012. There's talk of flying another Shuttle at the end of 2010, that would leave a gap of just over a year. Then add another year for more test flights before the system is operational.

It seems unlikely that SpaceX or other COTS suppliers will be able to produce a crew vehicle much faster than Orion/Ares I even with lots of money. SpaceX have a Falcon 9 cargo demo test flight for NASA in Q2 2009, if that works well perhaps they can do it. Perhaps.


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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#4 2008-03-08 10:02:11

Yang Liwei Rocket
Member
Registered: 2004-03-03
Posts: 993

Re: US reliance on Russian access to space

Soyuz will be there, I don't really see it as a threat, addiction, reliance as some people pointed out. The US should see Soyuz launches as support as it goes through the transition from one program to another. If people start panicking or rushing because of some boogeyman the job might not be done correctly

COTS sounds like a nice idea but they are over hyped by the US media, and just because they are private won't mean they are automatically sucessful. I remember the media calling one rocket failure a successful voyage into space, even though they lost the payload.


Enough to close the gap? Enough to give more cash in the COTS contracts to get a commercial crew vehicle?

As some newmars people already pointed out much of America's military Sats already depend on launch from Russian tech, Atlas rockets use the Russian-designed and built RD-180 engine and some congress members would love to axe the rockets because of this. Other US commercial payloads have been lifted on European rockets, soon a Moon probe will be launched on an Indian rocket...get the picture ?


'first steps are not for cheap, think about it...
did China build a great Wall in a day ?' ( Y L R newmars forum member )

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#5 2008-03-08 10:36:25

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: US reliance on Russian access to space

NASA only have a contract for Soyuz until the end of 2011. The Russians can ask any price they want as there's no other provider. Does the media even know what COTS means? The space media does, but it's not an issue for big  media. So far COTS has produced zilch. NASA know it is high risk even to take cargo to the ISS, taking people there and bringing them back alive is far more difficult.

The US military can use Delta IV which has no Russian engines. There's an international market in commercial launchers including Russian, European, Chinese and Indian vehicles. But none of these other than Russian Soyuz and Progress can service ISS.


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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#6 2008-03-09 18:31:10

Commodore
Member
From: Upstate NY, USA
Registered: 2004-07-25
Posts: 1,021

Re: US reliance on Russian access to space

If this is true, its downright criminal.

Plutonium Shortage May Thwart Future NASA Missions to Outer Planets

I also found this, I don't know if this ever worked out.

U.S. Has Plans to Again Make Own Plutonium


"Yes, I was going to give this astronaut selection my best shot, I was determined when the NASA proctologist looked up my ass, he would see pipes so dazzling he would ask the nurse to get his sunglasses."
---Shuttle Astronaut Mike Mullane

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#7 2008-03-09 21:02:08

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 21,299

Re: US reliance on Russian access to space

Yes the stories are true but they were more active when Nasa was trying to get the New Horizon on its way to Pluto, quite awhile ago....

Probably the status has not changed all that much out of fear for nuclear in general....

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#8 2008-03-09 21:24:39

Commodore
Member
From: Upstate NY, USA
Registered: 2004-07-25
Posts: 1,021

Re: US reliance on Russian access to space

I can't imagine Bush bowing to that type of pressure. More likely they couldn't find the funding for it.


"Yes, I was going to give this astronaut selection my best shot, I was determined when the NASA proctologist looked up my ass, he would see pipes so dazzling he would ask the nurse to get his sunglasses."
---Shuttle Astronaut Mike Mullane

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#9 2008-03-10 07:19:47

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: US reliance on Russian access to space

Yes the stories are true but they were more active when Nasa was trying to get the New Horizon on its way to Pluto, quite awhile ago....

Probably the status has not changed all that much out of fear for nuclear in general....

NASA doesn't have a big appetite for nuclear fuel. MSL will have one RTG that uses some but there's no other mission planned that needs one. So there should be time enough to produce more for future deep space missions, such as  the Europa orbiter. These missions won't go before 2012. Maybe the Russians have some spare smile


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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#10 2008-03-12 08:12:05

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: US reliance on Russian access to space

Lawmakers use launch to pitch NASA - 12 Mar 2008

The group was led by Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, and Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Texas, a powerful NASA booster in Washington whose district includes Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Gordon and Lampson said they hoped to impress the delegation with the spectacle of a night shuttle launch. "We want members to take back the message of the importance of NASA and make them understand the agency has ripple effect throughout the economy," Gordon said.

Both men are pushing for more funding to speed the development of NASA's Constellation space-exploration program and to shorten the time -- now estimated at five years -- it will take to return astronauts to space after the shuttle retires in 2010.

"We are going to have a gap no matter what," Gordon said. "Additional funding will help reduce that gap, and we hope that by bringing Congress members here tonight, we will be able to do that."


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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#11 2008-03-12 08:59:23

Gregori
Member
From: Baile Atha Cliath, Eireann
Registered: 2008-01-13
Posts: 297

Re: US reliance on Russian access to space

International cooperation will be awesome for space exploration. It will slash the huge costs and avoid the millitant nationalism that has plagued past space programmes big_smile

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#12 2008-03-12 09:25:37

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: US reliance on Russian access to space

International cooperation will be awesome for space exploration. It will slash the huge costs and avoid the millitant nationalism that has plagued past space programmes big_smile

If only that were true. International projects add cost because of multi site,  and multi cultural issues as well as multiple bureaucracies. On the positive side they bring more resources and different experience and approaches to solving problems. As to militant nationalism, that can breakout any time.


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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