The Russian government yesterday officially approved an extension to 2030 of the cooperative space treaty with the United States that was initially signed in 1992.
According to the TASS article at the link, the U.S. government has already approved this extension. The original agreement was for U.S. flights to the Russian space station Mir. It has been renewed four times since to cover the deal to build and use ISS.
This could very well be the last extension of this deal. By 2030 private commercial American stations should be operational, and the age of some of the oldest sections of ISS will likely need replacement. At that point the U.S. will probably decide to retire its half of ISS.
What the Russians will do is uncertain. The government doesn’t have the cash to build its own station. Nor has that government allowed a private commercial space industry to thrive and thus be financially able to build private commercial stations. Russia may separate its part of ISS and attempt to keep it aloft, but some of their modules are the oldest, and have shown signs of that age.
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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