Rather than use American manned capsules, NASA is considering buying more Soyuz astronaut flights


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Because of the delays imposed by its safety panel in the development of two American-made manned capsules, NASA is now considering buying more Soyuz astronaut flights from Russia.

Past experience has shown the difficulties associated with achieving first flights on time in the final year of development. Typically, problems will be discovered during these test flights. The consequences of no US crew on ISS warrant protection by acquiring additional seats. The absence of U.S. crewmembers at any point would diminish ISS operations to an inoperable state,” noted a procurement document published on February 13.

NASA is considering contracting with the State Space Corporation “Roscosmos” for these services on a sole source basis for two (2) Soyuz seats and associated services to the International Space Station (ISS) on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft vehicle. This transportation would be for one crewmember in the Fall of 2019 and one crewmember in the Spring of 2020.

Remind me again: What country does NASA work for? From this I think it is Russia, not the United States. The agency has no problem putting its astronauts on a Soyuz rocket, even though Russia has had chronic quality control problems that not only caused a Soyuz launch abort last year but also had someone drill a hole in a manned capsule, an act of sabotage that Russia has still not explained or solved.

Meanwhile, it slow-walks and delays in any manner it can the manned efforts of two American companies, so that it is forced to use Russian rockets. This is unconscionable. Where is Trump, the “America-First” guy? Why isn’t he stepping in and putting an end to this political gamesmanship that clearly favors a foreign power over American companies?

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10 comments

  • Foxbat

    What stops SpaceX or Boeing from sending their own test pilots on space flights?

  • Tom Billings

    “Remind me again: What country does NASA work for?”

    Shelbystan.

    They have been reduced to a faucet through which money flows to the political vassals of the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

  • Tom Billings

    Foxbat asks:

    “What stops SpaceX or Boeing from sending their own test pilots on space flights?”

    Boeing Space, Security, & Defense corp. is stopped by being one of Senator Shelby’s most prominent vassals, who do not dare rouse his anger.

    SpaceX is now concentrating its own resources on flying Starship/Super Heavy, and will waste no more of its own on a program so totally dominated by NASA’s vassalage to a politician who demands total control over where the money is spent, instead of letting them get on with completing their work as specified in the contract. Commercial Crew is not totally written off, but will not be sped up because of Shelby’s hold on NASA, and so they will spend no more than they must to not abrogate the contract.

  • ” . . . The absence of U.S. crewmembers at any point would diminish ISS operations to an inoperable state,”

    Why? Do Americans have some special ability to work on space stations that others lack?

  • Michael

    It seems Gene Kranz was wrong.

    Failure does appear to be an option.

  • Edward

    Blair Ivey asked:
    Why [would the absence of U.S. crewmembers at any point diminish ISS operations to an inoperable state]? Do Americans have some special ability to work on space stations that others lack?

    No. The Russians have already announced a reduced Russian crew for ISS. Not having Americans would have left so few people on board that maintenance, not science, would have been the major activity.

  • mkent

    Why? Do Americans have some special ability to work on space stations that others lack?

    Yes. They know how to operate and maintain the American side of the space station, which is the vast majority of it. Without an American on board to perform maintenance the ISS systems will quickly begin to fail.

  • Richard M

    It makes you wonder what it would take for NASA management to issue a waiver to accelerate a Commercial Crew test launch. Would a Soyuz have to blow up on liftoff?

    Perhaps, but one has the sinking feeling it wouldn’t be issued to the contractor based in Hawthorne.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Richard M,

    Fortunately, “the contractor based in Hawthorne” will have its own crew-capable orbital and deep space vehicle ready to fly – perhaps in as little as a year. At that point, Sen. Shelby’s malign influence will be dealt a significant blow – perhaps, one dares hope, even a fatal one.

  • Steve Cooper

    I would be cautious about appealing to President Trump. He was wanting to make the first flight of the SLS a manned flight which is just a little bit too ambitious for me.

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