Russia fights back


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Much has been made about the sanctions the Obama administration has imposed on any cooperation with Russia due to the situation in Ukraine and how those sanctions might damage the commercial and manned space efforts of the United States.

So far, all evidence has suggested that the sanctions have little teeth. The Obama administration exempted ISS from the sanctions. It also appears to be allowing the shipment of all commercial satellites to Russia for launch. Even a court injunction against using Russia rocket engines in U.S. military launches was lifted when the Obama administration asked the judge to do so.

The Russians now have responded. Why do I take their response more seriously?

Russia’s deputy prime minister, Dmitry Rogozin, announced today that his country is banning the use of any Russia rocket enginess on an American military launch. Moreover, if the U.S. can’t guarantee that a launch will not have military applications, they will forbid delivery of the engine and will also forbid any maintenance on any engines already delivered to the U.S.

This ban effectively eliminates Lockheed Martin’s Atlas 5 rocket from future rocket launches. The company has a two year stockpile of Russian engines which they can probably make work, even without Russian help. After that, however, they are out of luck. It is unlikely they can build a replacement engine in that time.

In addition, Rogozin announced that unless the U.S. allows the establishment of Russian GPS stations on U.S. soil for its Glonass system, they will ban use of American GPS stations in Russia.

“We are suspending the work of these stations in Russian territory from June 1,” he said. Rogozin said that the American stations were deployed in Russia in line with the agreements signed in 1993 and 2011. “In accordance with these agreements, eleven GPS stations are located in ten Russian regions,” he said.

The deadline seems firm, which means that as of June 1 the U.S. GPS stations in Russia will be out of commission.

Finally, Rogozin also mentioned that Russia is also reconsidering its partnership with the U.S. on ISS, and has not decided whether it will extend that partnership past 2020, as requested by the U.S. Rogozin instead said that the Russian government is mulling a new approach to its space program.

All this is part of the renewed dominance of the Russian government. Having consolidated its control over the entire Russian aerospace industry, the government is now asserting its power and demanding that this industry do its bidding. Not only are they using that industry to hit back at the Obama administration for its weak-kneed sanctions, they are going to impose on that industry a more coherent long term program for space exploration, which I also suspect will exclude the U.S.

In the short term — ten to fifteen years — this consolidation and the imposition of a government imposed program will likely energize the Russian aerospace industry, giving it a more focused purpose. That success will cause many Americans to panic as they watch the Russias begin to assert itself in ways we have not seen since the 1960s.

In the long run, however, it will fail, just as the Soviet Union failed in 1991, as the typical bloated cooperate culture of big government programs begins to eat away at the industry’s efficiency, making it increasingly difficult for it to accomplish much of anything.

For the U.S. to intelligently compete with this new Russian effort we must resist the urge to copy them. The last thing we should do is to create our own national space program, with similar but competing goals, all controlled from Washington. Instead, we must continue what we have been doing for the past six years, continue the slow but steady transition back to a freedom-based competitive aerospace market, with private companies and private American citizens providing the leadership and ideas, not the government.

If we do that, we will easily stay ahead of the Russians. And we will get our nation into space far faster and with greater capability.

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10 comments

  • Competential

    This is part of the ongoing defeat of the US governmental superpower.
    After the humiliating military defeats against stone age fanatics in Iraq and Afghanistan, now having and being ever more taken over by al Qaida and the talibans, and having lost most allied dictators in the Middle East, and after having been caught spying on the democratically elected leaders of its closest NATO allies in Europe, the US foreign policy since 911 is a confirmed catastrophy for US international influence. Never have administrations hurt the US so severly as have Bush W and Obama with their disastrously aggressive foreign policies!

    US economic influence has been dwindling since many decades. The dollar might be abandoned as a reserve currency any day now. It’s up to China, the EU and Russia to pick their date of choice when to make the USD worthless. The FED doesn’t have a say about it anymore having reached their final heaven with 0% sharia interest rate. The US economy is today a too a small fraction of the world economy to keep on its inflationary issuance of a world reserve currency. If the US had cooperated and integrated internationally peacefully, it could’ve remained a stable superpower. But in our time, the course to self punishment has been chosen instead.

    The US is greatly self-overestimated today and will brutally land on the ground quite a bit below its feet.

  • Tom Billings

    Well, …it’s obvious above that the crazies have arrived at Behind the Black commentary again. I doubt anyone should bother feeding this troll.

  • Pzatchok

    Its that old reserve currency thing again.

    For the rest of the world to switch to a different reserve currency they would ALL have to sell off their US treasury notes long for they matured and gained full value. Thus they would be selling them off at a price far less than face value.

    Which is great since it would give the US a chance to buy back its notes at a great discount and that alone would make our currency a more valuable and stable currency than it is now.

    Its like a bank selling off its loans at a price lower than what it loaned them out for in the first place. ( A note is just a loan.) The bank(those other nations) would lose money hand over foot.

    The fact is there is no other currency out there that is even close US dollar in the depth of its intrusion into the worlds reserves. We are over 60% of all cash.With the EU being the closest in second at just 24%. The rest of the world is the other 16 percent. The Chinese Yuan is still behind New Zealand.

    What the heck are they going to replace the US dollar with? The Italian Lira?

  • Pzatchok

    But back to our real article.

    I like how they have said they will no longer sell rocket engines it they are to go onto military launches.

    Thats like a literal thumb in the administrations eye.
    If they had kept their hands out of it this would have looked like a simple corporate dog fight. But by getting the judge to drop the injunction they gave the Russians a chance to make it an international thing. A self defense thing for Russia.
    They now have the perfect excuse to not sell any engines until Obama hands over all the information about the launch cargoes they ask for.

  • Kelly Starks

    On the web more Russia friendly posters suggest the translation was a bit rough, and in Russian its more mild. Not gareenteing participation in, or fight to, the ISS after 2020. At this point its not clear Soyuz can be kept operating that long. Also, its politically increasingly iffy for Putin to be this cooperative with the US.

    >..
    >… Russia’s deputy prime minister, Dmitry Rogozin, announced today that his country is banning the use of any Russia rocket engines on an American
    > military launch. Moreover, if the U.S. can’t guarantee that a launch will not have military applications, they will forbid delivery of the engine and will also
    > forbid any maintenance on any engines already delivered to the U.S.

    Supposedly the Russian version seems to say can’t be used on US missiles.

    > This ban effectively eliminates Lockheed Martin’s Atlas 5 rocket from future rocket launches. The company has a two year stockpile
    > of Russian engines which they can probably make work, even without Russian help. After that, however, they are out of luck.
    > It is unlikely they can build a replacement engine in that time.

    They obviously could get a engine line up and operated, or they could transfer the customers to the Delta … which the mil kept in production for just such contingencies.

    In addition, Rogozin announced that unless the U.S. allows the establishment of Russian GPS stations on U.S. soil for its Glonass system, they will ban use of American GPS stations in Russia.

    > “We are suspending the work of these stations in Russian territory from June 1,” he said. Rogozin said that the American stations
    > were deployed in Russia in line with the agreements signed in 1993 and 2011. “In accordance with these agreements,
    > eleven GPS stations are located in ten Russian regions,” he said.

    What exactly do they do?

    >.. Finally, Rogozin also mentioned that Russia is also reconsidering its partnership with the U.S. on ISS, and has not decided whether
    > it will extend that partnership past 2020, as requested by the U.S. …

    NASA must be dancing in the streets over that news. They were bitter over not being allowed to dump the station as promised.. well about now if I remember right?

    Obama folks likely are happy to.

    > All this is part of the renewed dominance of the Russian government. Having consolidated its control over the entire Russian aerospace industry,
    > the government is now asserting its power and demanding that this industry do its bidding. Not only are they using that industry to hit back at the
    > Obama administration for its weak-kneed sanctions, they are going to impose on that industry a more coherent long term program for space
    > exploration, which I also suspect will exclude the U.S.

    Agree. The US and USSR/FAS space program is about PR, and another chance to embarrass/shame the US is to good to pass up.

    >…The last thing we should do is to create our own national space program,.

    You mean the one all newspace is feeding on? The one really paying all the bills?

    Note this arguable eliminates the need for COTS or commercial crew, since they won’t be available to do anything for station until its last couple years. (test flights of Dream Chaser 2016+, CST ’17+.. Orion’s about there. So operational could maybe kick in for ’19-’20?) The US has no refueling tankers to keep ISS operating. So killing COTS/CRS/CCDev for crash programs to restart US rocket engine industry and critical space capabilities would seem a much better

  • Edward

    > You mean the one all newspace is feeding on? The one really paying all the bills?

    Newspace companies Virgin Galactic and XCOR are feeding on space tourists, not the usual governmental bill payers.

    Newspace company Bigelow Aerospace plans to independently feed off of various governments, mostly foreign, and companies who want to perform space experiments but can’t access the ISS (which may not be available for more than six-1/2 years). Some may even want to have their own space programs, based upon Bigelow hardware and commercial space transportation.

    Bigelow is counting on the newspace commercial crew companies for transportation, so I don’t think that commercial manned space is nearly as limited in scope as you suggest. They will be eager to take people, experiments, and supplies to Bigelow space habitats well after 2020, feeding on those customers, rather than the crippled NASA.

    > killing COTS/CRS/CCDev for crash programs to restart US rocket engine industry and critical space capabilities would seem a much better

    Only to the short sighted. In the long run, commercial space promises to be superior to the limited funding, limited imagination of a centralized national space program. The limits placed on NASA are why we do not have a lot more space assets in place, including a permanent lunar base and regular transportation to it. NASA’s employees may be able to imagine quite a lot, but Congress puts massive limits on what they can do about it. Because of the way that various presidents and Congresses have mismanaged and misfunded our current national space program, NASA, all we have is partial ownership of a space station (and all the current problems that we are having due to that partial ownership) and a cancelled Space Shuttle, without any means of getting ourselves into space, much less to our space station.

    Please, no one tell our government about JPL, the only well managed (though still poorly funded) part of our national space program. They would probably cripple that, too.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> You mean the one all newspace is feeding on? The one really paying all the bills?

    > Newspace companies Virgin Galactic and XCOR are feeding on space tourists, not the usual governmental bill payers.

    > Newspace company Bigelow Aerospace plans to independently feed off of various governments, mostly foreign,==

    Point there.

    > Bigelow is counting on the newspace commercial crew companies for transportation, so I don’t think that commercial manned
    > space is nearly as limited in scope as you suggest. ..

    It pretty much is. Bigelows market projections have plunged. At one point he was projecting as much as perhaps 24 flights a year — now its more like 2, and not at the start. So without commercial crew Boeings openly said they could justify building the CST. Dream Chaser I don’t know for sure, but the – what billion $ – Dream Chaser program would be hard to justify (or fund) for a few Biggelow flights.

    >> killing COTS/CRS/CCDev for crash programs to restart US rocket engine industry and critical space capabilities would seem a much better

    > Only to the short sighted. In the long run, commercial space promises to be superior to the limited funding, limited imagination
    > of a centralized national space program. ===

    Without Engines, no one gets to space. Worse, if the engines are limited – they get shifted to the most critical and highest paying users. DOD, Gov,

    >.. The limits placed on NASA are why we do not have a lot more space assets in place, including a permanent lunar base and regular transportation to it.

    Those limits are due to a lack of interest among voters. Given the NewSpace folks have little opportunity to develop any other markets. They rae even less likely to get moonbases etc then NASA.

    > Please, no one tell our government about JPL, the only well managed (though still poorly funded) part of our national space program. ..

    Their actually under Californias university system, and contract to NASA; but they are having their budgets cut as well..

  • Arnold Theisen

    “Russia fights back”
    Hmm?
    That sounds a lot like what the bullies used to say when a fight on the school yard was broken up by the Principal. “He hit me back first!”

  • Arnold Theisen

    Does no one else see that Putin wants to restore the Soviet Union in its territorial entirety and MORE?

  • Edward

    > Without Engines, no one gets to space. Worse, if the engines are limited – they get shifted to the most critical and highest paying users. DOD, Gov,

    The Russians have proposed only that their engines not be used for military launches, but they have yet to propose banning their use for commercial, non-military launches, such as to the ISS or other non-military space habitats. RD-180 and NK-33 engines are still available for commercial space launches. (And since no actions have yet been taken, in reality they have not yet been limited at all.)

    > Those limits are due to a lack of interest among voters. Given the NewSpace folks have little opportunity to develop any other markets.

    There was a total lack of interest among voters for government to create sub-orbital space tourism or space habitats other than the ISS, but investors are doing so anyway. There was much interest among voters to keep the Space Shuttle operating, but Congress and the president cancelled it anyway. Investors don’t bother polling voters, they poll potential customers, and the government often does what the voters don’t want, and they can get away with it (i.e. continue to be re-elected) by making up for the disappointments in other ways. The customers, however, are interested in what NewSpace is offering.

    > Their actually under Californias university system, and contract to NASA
    JPL is actually a NASA facility
    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/

    Please note that the top of Cal Tech’s home page brags that they are the home of *NASA’s* Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
    http://www.caltech.edu/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JPL
    “JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.”

    Cal Tech only manages JPL, but NASA owns it, (under)budgets it, and chooses the programs that they will fund.

    Cal Tech is not part of California’s university system. You may be confused from the suggestion, a few years ago, that the management contract go out to bid, in which the University of California would have been asked to be a bidder. Fortunately, somebody realized that there was no management problem at JPL (or did they think Cal Tech wanted to charge too much?), and the proposal went where it belonged.
    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2012-245

    Or you may be confusing Cal Tech for Cal Poly; both Cal Poly campuses are part of the California State University system.

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