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NASA’s short statement, in connection to the Obama administration’s decision to suspend all non-ISS related activities with Russia, is almost entirely a demand for more funding for its commercial space program.
NASA is laser focused on a plan to return human spaceflight launches to American soil, and end our reliance on Russia to get into space. This has been a top priority of the Obama Administration’s for the past five years, and had our plan been fully funded, we would have returned American human spaceflight launches – and the jobs they support – back to the United States next year. With the reduced level of funding approved by Congress, we’re now looking at launching from U.S. soil in 2017. The choice here is between fully funding the plan to bring space launches back to America or continuing to send millions of dollars to the Russians. It’s that simple. The Obama Administration chooses to invest in America – and we are hopeful that Congress will do the same.
Though I agree with them about accelerating manned commercial space, I can’t help wondering if this suspension of activities was actually instigated to generate this lobbying effort. ISS comprises the bulk of the U.S.’s cooperative effort with Russia, and by exempting that from this suspension the Obama administration essentially exempts practically everything, making the suspension somewhat meaningless.
What the suspension does do, however, is highlight our fragile dependency on Russia, just as Congress begins debate on the 2015 budget.