In the heat of competition: Russia is considering reducing its ISS crew from three to two.
“Plans to reduce the crew stem from the fact that less cargo ships are sent to the ISS and from the necessity to boost the efficiency of the program,” the newspaper quotes Krikalev. Apart from that, it will make it possible to lower expenses on the space station’s maintenance.
They haven’t yet made a decision. I suspect that the real reason they are considering this idea is because it will free up a seat on the Soyuz spacecraft that they can then sell to tourists, something they have been unable to do since the station got large enough for the full crew of six and the U.S. became dependent on them for crew ferrying.. By only sending two Russians astronauts up with each Soyuz launch they will then have a free seat for short tourist flights, which had been quite lucrative for them.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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