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Staying Together For The Kids

As I've noted in the past, we're going to have to decide how much ISS is worth to us. Chair Force Engineer thinks that we're going to bite the bullet and buy more Soyuzs from the Russians:

Besides the reliance on Soyuz, there are myriad other ways in which ISS cannot survive unless the US and Russia cooperate. The various modules are too interconnected, and neither country can operate their contributions to the station without the other country playing along. It's conceivable that Russia could afford to build Soyuz without American money, by selling the American slots to space tourists. But a Russian-led ISS would still require use of American space modules.

America and Russia are left in a situation where it's unlikely that either will abandon the ISS, even though both nations are mired in growing mistrust. If I had to make a bet, I would say that the US and Russia will learn to grin and bear it, operating ISS jointly until 2017. When Congress looks rationally at its options, it will realize that it will have to begrudgingly buy more Soyuz if it still wants to participate in ISS.

Sometimes, I think that expecting Congress to "look rationally at its options" is asking too much. Particularly when it's robbing money from the NASA budget to provide foreign aid to Ethiopia. Sure, why not? It's not like NASA's spending the money very usefully, anyway. It just proves my oft-made point that space isn't politically important.

Anyway, as I said in my Pajamas piece, this is a policy disaster long in the making, and the chickens are finally coming home to roost. It was naive in the extreme at the end of the Cold War to assume that we and Russia would be BFFs and enter into such an inextricable long-term relationship. Now it's like a very dysfunctional marriage that is being held together only out of concern for the children. Without ISS, the divorce would be swift, I suspect.

[Update a while later]

Speaking of apt metaphors, Clark Lindsey has one for the Ares program:

Yellow and red grades notwithstanding, it has always seemed extremely unlikely to me that Ares I would fail to fly when NASA has so many billions of dollars available to spend on it. However, since I believe the whole Ares I/V program to be a stupendous waste, if technical problems did arise that led to its cancellation, I'd consider it a boon for US space development. If the brakes fail and a huge truck starts to careen down a hill, it's a blessing if the thing blows a tire instead and flops over into a ditch with relatively little damage to people and property. Unfortunately, it appears that Ares will keep rolling no matter what.

Actually, I wouldn't necessarily bet on that. There may be "change" coming to NASA next year, regardless of who wins the election.



Brock wrote:

There may be "change" coming to NASA next year, regardless of who wins the election.


narciso wrote:

Don't knock Ethiopia. they are holding down the fort against the Somali AQ Islamic Courts movement. But I agree with you in principle, NASA's a mess. Were in 2008 and Apollo is our best bet.

Carl Pham wrote:

Yet another fuckup to lay at the feet of the Clintonistas, I guess.

Rand Simberg wrote:

Yet another fuckup to lay at the feet of the Clintonistas, I guess.

Well, ISS was, but overall, for the past several decades, US space policy has been a bipartisan disaster.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on September 12, 2008 7:06 AM.

The Media Meltdown was the previous entry in this blog.

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