Russia to launch two more American astronauts on Soyuz


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A news report from Russia today announced that NASA has extended its contract with Roscosmos so that two more American astronauts will fly to ISS using a Soyuz rocket and capsule.

Russia and the United States have agreed on two additional places on board of Soyuz carrier rockets for journeys of NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), Roscosmos Executive Director for Manned Programs Sergei Krikalyov told TASS. “The documents have been approved,” Krikalyov said adding that it the procedure to sign the papers took place before a recently reported incident with Crew Dragon spacecraft.

According to Krikalyov, there was no new draft of the document as it was “Simply an update to the previously signed contract, everything was in work order and there was no solemn ceremony to mark the signing of the documents.”

This agreement practically guarantees that there will be no Americans flying on American-built spacecraft in 2019. Rather than push SpaceX and Boeing to get their technical problems solved quickly so they can start flying, NASA can continue to slow-walk their development by going to the Russians. For NASA bureaucrats, using the Russians is to their advantage. Any failures can be blamed on the Russians, not NASA due diligence, which would be the case if an American privately-built capsule failed.

Moreover, slow-walking the American spacecraft helps NASA avoid further embarrassment with its own manned system, SLS/Orion, which is years behind schedule. By slowing the private capsules, the delays with SLS/Orion won’t seem so bad.

In other words, NASA’s approach here favors itself and the Russians over the interests of our country and American private companies. It is too bad no one in the Trump administration notices, or cares.

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9 comments

  • Cotour

    Shameful, we can not even put our own people on the space station.

  • Tom Billings

    “It is too bad no one in the Trump administration notices, or cares.”

    Oh, they care, but they must care about many things, and bargain for their highest priorities. When your bargaining is with the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and you have many items you need, then you find out just how painfully non-absolute the powers of the President are.

  • mike shupp

    It’s be easy to make a snide (liberal) comment about the Trump administration wanting to stay on good terms with Russians. But I’ll demur.

    Consider instead, what are our long term prospects and plans for spreading humanity throughout the solar system. Do we WANT to do it all alone? Or do we want partners from a variety of other nations, sending out their own nationals to work cooperatively with Americans? Or would we prefer to have allies and rivals out there, just as we have on Earth? Think about not just the next couple of years but until the end of century and well beyond.

    The Russians have some strengths and some liabilities, and given the right circumstances they’d make decent partners, From a long term perspective, maybe slipping Roscosmos this kind of business-cum-subsidy makes sense, or at least is a reasonable gamble.

    Hey, Bill Clinton though so, back in the late 1990’s.

  • wodun

    The Russians have some strengths and some liabilities, and given the right circumstances they’d make decent partners, From a long term perspective, maybe slipping Roscosmos this kind of business-cum-subsidy makes sense, or at least is a reasonable gamble.

    Hey, Bill Clinton though so, back in the late 1990’s.

    Perhaps, but they shouldn’t be our only way to get to space.

  • wodun

    Space is not important. It is important to some people. More people complain the government doesn’t spend more money on their own pet issues than the space nerds do. NASA will always be competing with a host of other worthy causes to spend money on and they will compete for attention too. Do we really want our government to get more involved?

    What is more important, that Trump get China to play fair in our economic competition or micromanage NASA? NK or NASA? Open borders or NASA. Regulations or NASA? Courts or NASA? And on and on.

    NASA gets its strength from the strength of the populace and the economy. Reducing regulations, improving trade, getting back to law and order are all things that improve the country and have a direct effect on NASA but they also help set the conditions that allow American groups and individuals to to what they want to in space, which is the only way out of the budget competition trap.

    Sometimes it is good to step back and take a view broader than our own narrow interests. This gives us a new perspective on our interests and how they fit into the bigger picture.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Mike,

    When Bill Clinton invited the Russkies in on ISS in the early 90’s, it was a defensible decision. Events beginning only a few years afterward have long since shown that Russia isn’t really interested in being anything but a pain in the arse to the United States. The fact that Russia is getting poorer and less populous with every passing year doesn’t help matters anent their notional participation in space settlement efforts going forward. Bluntly put, a nation with no real future on the ground isn’t going to have any future in space either. Russia is, long-term, in an economic and demographic death spiral. I favor leaving them to their inevitable fate once ISS is retired. Absent ISS, I doubt Russia will be able to sustain any human spaceflight efforts. If this proves true, the question of Russia’s future role in space becomes moot.

    I foresee the settlement of space being largely a U.S. and Indian project going forward, with perhaps some early, but modest, participation also from the Chinese and a very modest admixture of Europeans, Canadians and Anzacs on an ongoing basis. China faces economic and demographic challenges at least as acute as those of Russia over the next few decades so I think their announced plans for future space endeavors have to be viewed increasingly askance with those furthest in the future being the most problematic.

    As to the snide comment to which you allude, that would, one presumes, only be amusing to delusional lefties who still buy into the whole Trump-as-Russian-tool fantasy that has now been thoroughly scuppered via Mueller’s failure to find any evidence to support it despite long and energetic efforts.

  • wodun

    It is tough to tell who the participants will be in space settlement. Opening access to those with the funds to purchase goods and services means that a key part in determining the participants is looking at who has the desire and will to go.

  • Dick Eagleson

    It’s not especially tough to figure out who the participants will be in space settlement. It will be people with pioneer personalities who also possess the knowledge and aptitudes to make a go of it out in the Infinite Black – or die trying.

    Because, up until WW2, America was essentially a distillation pot in which such attitudes were sourced from all over, then mixed and concentrated, Americans will dominate at least the early days of space settlement.

    People from other sui generis nations such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel will also be found in disproportionate numbers among the space pioneers.

    More settled and self-satisfied national cultures, even rich ones, will contribute relatively few. Nations that are poor and/or authoritarian will also contribute few – their national governments will most likely prevent their departures.

    India will contribute a lot simply because it has roughly four times the U.S. population and is likely to maintain that margin throughout the rest of this century. The pioneering personality is not likely anywhere near as commonplace in India as it is here, but India has so many people, that what pioneer types it does have will be a significant population off-world as extra-terrestrial migration becomes a significant thing.

  • Edward

    mike shupp asked: “Consider instead, what are our long term prospects and plans for spreading humanity throughout the solar system. Do we WANT to do it all alone? Or do we want partners from a variety of other nations, sending out their own nationals to work cooperatively with Americans? Or would we prefer to have allies and rivals out there, just as we have on Earth? Think about not just the next couple of years but until the end of century and well beyond.

    What we want is for governments to not be involved in this expansion. They do things expensively and inefficiently, and they do what they want done, not what the rest of us want done. Compare the past half century of government-run space industry with the expectations that we had half a century ago.

    What we want is for commercial companies and private groups to do this expansion, perhaps working together as their own teams or joint corporations, as companies now do on other products or services (space example of a joint corporation: United Launch Alliance). Not only will they do this expansion at their own expense, not the taxpayers, but rather than doing what government wants, they will do things that We the People want done — things that are productive and earn money to further the expansion.

    Another advantage to commercially funded expansion is that people who advocate that “Space is not important,” or ask questions like, “Do we really want our government to get more involved,” as wodun did, no longer have to worry that their own tax dollars are being siphoned from their own more important pet issues (mine being the national debt).

    It is also a second “way out of the budget competition trap.” No government involvement means no governmental budget contribution means no budget trap.

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