Just yesterday I posted a blog arguing the pro’s and con’s of shutting down part of NASA and having to depend on Russia while our private sector is able to “catch up” and take U.S. astronauts into space. (Okay, I mainly stated the cons of this decision because there seems to be so many. Little did I image what actually occurred!)
Wednesday, a Russian cargo ship on top a Soyuz Rocket crashed carrying supplies to the six crew members living in the ISS, International Space Station. Prior to shutting down NASA, both they and Russia made stops to the ISS. With the shutdown of NASA, crew members are reliant upon the Russian rockets to obtain supplies and to change crew members. It is reported that there is no immediate danger to the crew members aboard the ISS at this time; they have sufficient supplies from the last NASA shuttle mission in July. There are also no worries that the crew will be stranded in space as there is a pair of three- man pods that can be used as an escape route.
So what’s the problem? For starters, in September the Soyuz was to launch manned missions on these crafts that our astronauts were to be a part of. This is the same time (September) that three of the crew members are scheduled to be replaced. Another three are to be replaced by fresh members in December. If Russia is unable to identify the problem with the rockets it could leave the ISS short staffed or even unmanned for a time. I am unsure the implications if that were to occur.
It is being reported that Russia may halt immediate space missions until this issue is identified and resolved, this could be an indefinite period of time. Presently Russian rockets and their Soyuz capsules are the only way for astronauts and cosmonauts to get into space.
Tom Jones, former NASA astronaut, gave an interview on Fox News regarding the significance of this event. He reports that it will take the private sector “about five years” to build shuttles to take U.S. astronauts into space (I had reported yesterday a projection date of 2014. 2011 is over half over, so if it takes five years from 2012, we will not go into space on our own until 2017!!!). Regardless if it takes one year or ten, the fact remains we are at a disadvantage and now the ISS and its research is being affected due to the decision to shut down part of NASA without a backup plan for something going wrong with Russian equipment.
August 18th Russia had another hiccup with their equipment sending a telecommunications satellite into the wrong orbit. Accidents will happen, but shouldn’t we, the United States, only be hindered by our own accidents instead of being affected by another country’s?
And wasn’t it a good idea to work together, being able to back each other up in space, instead of placing so much burden on Russia?
The United States decision to shut down part of NASA is having international consequences and while this is a “small hiccup” in the grand scheme of things, what could happen in the future?
What are your thoughts? (Please refer to yesterdays post for additional information regarding shutting down part of NASA titled "From NASA to Boeing...Huston We Might Have a problem" )