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Russia's Role in the ISS in Trouble 360

Posted by chrisd
from the blame-lance-bass dept.
Uhh_Duh writes "cnn.com is reporting that the Russian space program has fallen on hard times and is no longer capable of launching independent missions due to budget problems. The article touches on the fact that their annual funding is about 309 million versus the U.S. budget of 15 billion. They've also announced that they will not be meeting most of their future deliverables for the international space station." (corrected, the title originally said "IIS" instead of "ISS)
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Russia's Role in the ISS in Trouble

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  • by craenor (623901) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:20PM (#4865654) Homepage
    Carry all of the boy bands into space for $100 million...then take bids on an open auction to leave them there...
    • by rowanxmas (569908) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:32PM (#4865786)
      Carry all of the boy bands into space for $100 million...then take bids on an open auction to leave them there...

      I see nothing wrong with this idea. If pop stars are willing to pay for the station, and keep our (important?) research going, then, by god let them. I would rather the boy bands pay for it than my tax dollars.
      • Exactly, and moreover the boy bands would pay for the space program through voluntary trade, in contrast to your tax dollars which are collected by force. The more the space program is funded through voluntary trade, the more the space program is representative of the market (the people) rather than government.
    • Really! They should go totally commercial - build a moon station and fill it with $20M/week tourists. One the infrastructure was in place maybe they could up the volume, lower the price, and start ferrying the rest of us poor schmucks up there too.

      One of my lifetime goals is to fuck in space.
      • Fucking in space would be rather painful. I'd much rather fuck in a spaceship.

        0-G sex would also introduce control and fluid problems. If you want to try it, I know there are pilots who will take you up in a private airplane and let you join the Mile High club. They top it off by doing Vomit-Comet maneuvers to simulate microgravity.

        Russia should consider a porn in space. It helped with the proliferation of the internet.

  • write them off (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Metaldsa (162825) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:21PM (#4865658)
    So is NASA planning on writing off Russia totally? Do they get to use the Internation Space Station later on if they get funding (economy improves, etc)?
    • Re:write them off (Score:4, Informative)

      by krlynch (158571) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:58PM (#4866065) Homepage

      I don't think NASA can write them off if they have any plans to expand the station. One of the only major technical reasons the Russians were invited in the first place is that they were the only country that had rocket designs with the heavy lift capability necessary to loft all of the various modules into orbit. It is possible, I suppose, that all of the remaining modules can be lofted by other smaller capacity launch vehicles, but I'm doubting that.

    • Re:write them off (Score:5, Informative)

      by RocketJeff (46275) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @06:00PM (#4866083) Homepage
      The problem is that NASA can't write-off Russia for the ISS. Russia provides the only escape system for the long-term crews (via their Soyuz spacecraft).

      Without the Soyuz capsules, the ISS can't have a full-time crew since there'd be no way to leave in an emergency. With the (non)reliability of the Space Shuttle, NASA can't depend on using it for rescue mission even if they had over a week notice.

      There's also the issue of the periodic reboosts the ISS needs. Right now, the Progress cargo missions also boost the ISS back up to its optimal orbit. Without the Progress, the ISS will keep getting lower and lower (until eventually it does a bad impression of the Sklab...).

  • by IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:21PM (#4865668) Homepage Journal
    Rule #1: Never never never give any critical roles to bankrupt nations.

    About the dumbest thing NASA (or the US) could do, get together a bunch of nations to build/launch/maintain a space station, then give the critical parts (life support, delivery of components) responsibility to the nation than can least afford to do it.

    Brilliant, the IIS was doomed from the word go.
    • responsibility to the nation than can least afford to do it.

      That responsibility was given to the nation that was the most qualified to do it. Do you honestly believe that bringing the Russians on board for this project was a bad idea? The Russians are far more advanced than NASA is when it comes to inhabiting space for long periods of time. You may call those who made the decision to include the Russians dumb but I disagree. They pulled off a major coup that saved years off of the time it would have taken NASA to get the ISS to the point it is now.
      • responsibility to the nation than can least afford to do it.

        That responsibility was given to the nation that was the most qualified to do it.

        Given the Russians' experience on Mir, I'd certainly insist on the life-support systems on my Mars ship being stamped 'Made in Moscow'. Trouble was, in order to get the US government to approve the funding for the station, sufficient pork-barrel spending had to be approved. So instead of simply sending the Russians a cheque for twenty million dollars for a life-support system proved by twelve years of extremely tough duty aboard Mir, they approve forty million to send to Lockheed to develop a new and unproved system from scratch - because that way the money goes to some congressman's voters.

        Of course, there was no way in hell NASA could hope to build a station alone, so Congress had to be persuaded to write the Russians a cheque anyway. That's where the 'if they don't work for us, they'll work for Saddam' argument came in.

        Still, though, most of the spending had to be done in the USA for political reasons. If America really wanted the best possible station as cheaply as possible, they would have had the Russians do the whole thing. As it was, it was a political compromise, with each senator bought off with a plum contract for his own voters...

        • There's more than just politics behind the reason why Congress would want to keep manufacturing in the US. It's probably true that if the US wanted the cheapest possible space station, Russia could have been paid to build and launch the entire thing. However, all of the money flowing to Russia would probably have no economic impact on the US other than depleting our reserves. By manufacturing in the US, the money stays within the US economy, creating jobs here and generally having the same effect as the huge job contracts given by the government in the past (think FDR economics...) and, theoretically, improving the strength of the economy here (as opposed to improving the economy in Russia).
          • By manufacturing in the US, the money stays within the US economy, creating jobs here and generally having the same effect as the huge job contracts given by the government in the past (think FDR economics...) and, theoretically, improving the strength of the economy here (as opposed to improving the economy in Russia).

            This is not the best argument to use, given that we would have to put money into stabilizing Russia if it ever go into dire straits financially (not to mention, an economically strong Russia is a great market for US products.) Additionally, had we been able to build the ISS for cheap, we could have used the rest of the money to build other items of use in space, items that we could have designed and built in the US. Finally, we should look at return on investment for the US taxpayer, since whatever economic gains you have in the US will be offset by the taxes on that income.

            Bottom line, unless we do no trade with Russia (not true, they buy our wheat, we buy their oil, they sell boosters and launch facilities to private corporations, enabling stuff like SeaLaunch, and millions of dollars to both US and Russian economies), spending dollars abroad is not throwing the money away. Note that's spending dollars abroad, as opposed to no-strings aid, which usually is feel-good band-aid fix, rather than a real solution.

            The ultimate economic engine is if they opened space up to commercial enterprise. Mining, manufacturing (of space items, like ships, satelities, power generation, etc.) Problem is, all of the available launch tech is expensive. Had we been able to spend our dollars better (ie, develop a SSTO delivery system, and let the Russians build the space station modules), maybe we might have been able to lower the barrier into space. As it is, we're stuck in the same rut we've been for the last 25 years. Sad.
    • Of course the reason that they did this was because Morther Russia had the most experience and expertise in those fields of Life Support and cheapest payload delivery souyez (don't know if i spelled it right), most information on long stays in orbit, and the infrastructure to be an immediate key player, and although poor, it is a relatively rich nation in resources.

    • About the dumbest thing NASA (or the US) could do... [is] give the critical parts to the nation than can least afford to do it.

      You think the ISS would be flying right now without Russian involvement? Oh yeah, I forgot, it's all about money.

      For instance, it was all that money that allowed the USSR/Russian space agency to keep Mir flying for 15 years. [cosmicimages.com] Meanwhile, since the US had so little money during the same period, they were limited to struggling with space shuttle consistency problems, and their space research could only limp along by collaborating with the Europeans on SpaceLab missions. Yes, you might detect a little bit of sarcasm there....

      Simply put, Mir is one of the most ambitious and successful off-this-world projects to date. It was continually inhabited for 10 years straight at one point, for crissake. Needless to say, the Russians know a thing or two about living in space, finances aside.

      Maybe you should limit your knee-jerk reactions to Gnome vs. KDE discussions....

      --Mid

  • Ah well (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Torinaga-Sama (189890) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:21PM (#4865674) Homepage
    Their money is probably better spent feeding their people and counting their nukes at this point anyway.

  • by thoolie (442789) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:24PM (#4865700) Homepage
    "has fallen on hard times "

    I think the Russian Space Program has had hard times since the collapse of the USSR. Just my .02$
    • In this case, I'd have to say that Mir has fallen the hardest of all...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      1. Several years ago Russia was making good money from their space agency doing lots of foreign launches. As part of a US deal to supply aid to Russia one of the conditions was to scale back the amount of foreign launces they were doing as it was hurting NASA's profitability. More US economic terrorism.

      2. Everyone jokes about MIR. Remember SKYLAB? It fell out of the sky ages ago.
      MIR lasted 2-3 times as long as it was supposed to. SKYLAB Didnt it was launched May 14, 1973, fell to earth July 11, 1979

      MIR lasted 15 years!

  • by Uhh_Duh (125375) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:25PM (#4865706) Homepage

    I hate it when slashdot changes the title of the story and makes ME look like a bafoon!! I submitted it as "Russia's Space Program in Trouble".

    I've been framed as a spelling idiot!
  • Tourists (Score:3, Interesting)

    by selderrr (523988) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:26PM (#4865720) Journal
    I guess that this will louden the cry for billionaire space tourism. IMHO the russians should make that stuff their top priority !

    Let the russians handle the tourist part, let the yanks handle the military sillyness and we europeans will do the real stuff :-)
    • Yes we Europeans are good at the space thing:

      As this story [slashdot.org] proves.

      Well okay it's the fault of the French. Why the heck us British have sorted the Hotol project, instead of canning it with the lame excuse of national security I don't know. US involvement? Probably. Stupid politicians? definatly.

  • by Mothra the III (631161) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:28PM (#4865743)
    The space program has become ridiculous, between failed attempts to launch boy bands into space and new projects like virtual planets http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&cid=96&ncid =96&e=1&u=/space/20021210/sc_space/cyber_planets__ building_virtual_worlds_to_explore_signs_of_real_l ife it seems to have drifted far from actual space exploration. If they ever want public support for government dollars, they need to start looking at sending someone to Mars, or at least back to the moon,
    • I hate to say it, but it may be time to suck it up admit the reality that continued funding of the ISS is good money after bad. Whole careers have been poured into it, and AT LEAST $40 billion current-year dollars (prob. much more), and there's little prospect we'll have much to show for it. And no, it ain't no waystation to Mars or the Moon. This would largely ground the shuttle, but that wold also save big bucks.

      For the same billions, we could mount really aggressive Mars and Europa programs and learn how to build a lunar colony.

      BTW, please see [w3.org] next time you want to post a long URL.

      • Before building "a lunar colony" we must first learn how to live in space. Remember that before man even stepped on the moon, someone in Soviet Russia sent out a useless piece of metal to orbit the earth. It didn't do much, but was it a waste of money? No. Same goes for the space station. It would be nice if we could go strait to lunar colonizing, but there are intermediary steps that we must take.
        • It's not clear that the ISS is one of those steps.

          For some reason, our society has become so risk adverse that we'd be hard pressed to settle the West if that's what was called for. A lunar colony won't be tackled not because a useless space station isn't cutting it but because nobody is willing to risk a life any more.

      • "and there's little prospect we'll have much to show for it."

        Only because you think it's a short-term investment. Beyond physiological studies, there's little that can be done on a space station that can't be done without a satellite or a spacecraft. The point of the ISS isn't to be an exploration vessel, it's to be a port.

        Just because the Port of New York doesn't go anywhere and very little oceanographic work is done in Long Island Sound doesn't mean it's not vital to NOAA's exploration missions.
        • The point of the ISS isn't to be an exploration vessel, it's to be a port.

          Excuse me? A port to where? Even if ISS were in a better orbit, it isn't designed to be any sort of port, and here are NO PLANS to make it into one.

  • by esanbock (513790) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:29PM (#4865754)
    We better tell the Soviet Russians that if they don't pay up, all their space base are belong to us.

    Please try to keep posts on topic.
  • by Nefrayu (601593) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:31PM (#4865770) Homepage
    So aside from all the typos and joking, does anyone else have an opinion on the fact that the US is now THE power in space? Although the article mentions India spending $500 mil on space, it doesn't come close to our spending or our expertise. Personally I think it's a good thing. Space is the next military battleground, or so it is said. So what are your thoughts?
    • by Psiren (6145) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:58PM (#4866064)
      Not content with bullying everyone here on Earth, you want to do the same in Space too? Give me a break, good thing my arse.
    • by Hamstaus (586402) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:59PM (#4866073) Homepage
      Personally I think it's a good thing. Space is the next military battleground So, to get this straight, you would like to see space turned into a war zone? I don't think you're going to find many opinions to agree with you on that part. Space holds mysteries we cannot even imagine. To see tiny human nations squabble over who "owns" it is something we should strive to avoid. If we put weapons in space, even to support earth-based combat, then we start on a slippery slope.
    • ...does anyone else have an opinion on the fact that the US is now THE power in space? Although the article mentions India spending $500 mil on space, it doesn't come close to our spending or our expertise....

      Leaving aside from the somewhat gung ho attitude of this post, many other nations have active space programs. ESA are currently funding many advanced satellites and systems (although addmitedly manned spaceflight is not a high priority currently). Just because the USSR is having funding problems doesn't leave the field clear for the US.

      And just in case you haven't noticed, you ought to keep an eye on the Chinese space program, they are very enthusiastic, and have the political will to push things onwards rapidly.
    • by Soft (266615) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @06:19PM (#4866274)
      does anyone else have an opinion on the fact that the US is now THE power in space?

      The Ariane 5 lifts more than any commercial US rocket; the very latest (Atlas 5, Delta 4) have just matched its performance, though hopefully the 10-ton version will up the bar again in two minutes; the Space Shuttle and Titan 4B have more capacity but cost two or three times as much.

      Alcatel Space now builds over 50 percent of geostationary satellites.

      The US manned space program, mostly the ISS, still depends on Russian Soyuzes (used as lifeboats) and will continue that way until 2010 at least.

      Want more?

    • Although the article mentions India spending $500 mil on space, it doesn't come close to our spending or our expertise.

      Well, there is big difference between $500 mil spent by India and $500 mil spent by US. India can do considerably more than US with same money. Most of US money are wasted due to high overhead cost imposed by NASA, and general higher cost of IT and engineering. So I would not be surprised if India will soon accomplish as much as US by spending 30 times less.

      As for expertise, Russia is still far away. Mir spent 15 years in space, and was continuously inhabited for 10 years. It will be long time till ISS match it.

  • by WatertonMan (550706) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:31PM (#4865772)
    The whole way that NASA has run the Space Station program and the Mars program have been dismall. On the one hand the public doesn't really give a damn about science, so if NASA pursued fairly cheap science projects with a good return, they'd dry up quickly. At the same time though the space station is a solution in search of a problem - and one that is VERY expensive.

    To a degree all of this was just to help keep Soviet scientists around in Russia and not heading to the mid-east to develop nasty weapons. Further the military clearly had motives in keeping the Space Shuttle running. However now the Russians can't do much and haven't been able to move into commercial projects. Even in NASA the shuttles are wearing out with no replacements on the horizon.

    The big question is whether all of these problems are a good thing or a bad thing. When you consider the BILLIONS AND BILLIONS of dollars spent on all this, one can ask what the return has been. (Say it in a Carl Sagan voice) There are plenty of good scientific projects. Further R&D on making space flight cheaper is a big deal. But space research itself needs to be seriously rethought.

    • by parabyte (61793) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @07:16PM (#4866812) Homepage
      ,..one can ask what the return has been. [...] ...scientific projects...space research

      The wrong idea that sending people into space is science and research goes all back to the Apollo program, when after the first landing on the moon NASA tried to sell subsequent missions as "scientific missions".

      IMHO, sending a man to the moon was the highest cultural achievement of mankind in history so far, but as a piece of art, there is no much value in repeating it, and as nobody had the balls to admit that hundred billion dollars were spent for art, it had to be science.

      There is plenty of important science that happens in space, but you don't need people hanging around for that.

      Manned Space Exploration is about beeing there, and to feel how it feels to be there. It is about living there. It is about building houses, planting trees and fathering children out there. And cruising around with a cool car, if you are american.

      After Apollo 17 all space programs world started to decline, and there is no end in sight. The Space Shuttle program started by crippling Wernherr von Braun's original design that had a piloted, horizontal landing reuasable first stage by using a cheap throw-away fuel tank and reusable solid fuel boosters, ending up with a Space Shuttle with more expensive payload than using throw-away rockets. The buerocrats way of wasting money by budget cutting. And every news I heard about the ISS the last twenty years was about budget cuts and delays. I heard you need 2.5 people just to operate it, and there are three guys up there. SNAFU.

      It is sad, and I hope I will be wrong, but within a decade we will see:

      • The ISS will be abandoned a finally reenter the atmosphere
      • The last Space Shuttle will go out of service
      • There will be no more capabilities to send humans into orbit any more
      I just hope mankind will regain manned space travel before we will have depleted our natural resources here down on earth.

      • As mentioned, the military NEEDS the space shuttle. Remember how much involvement they had in its design. They made sure the payload bay could fit its spying equipment. While many of these systems can be launched via cheaper means, recall that many shuttle missions are still primarily military in nature. With the war on terror there will be that much of an impetus to have better spy equipment and probably better GPS equipment and communication equipment.

        The problem really is NASA as being more than simply a military shipping company.

    • People like yourself love to complain about the BILLIONS and BILLIONS that NASA is spending, yet you turn a blind eye to the military which last time I checked (and it was awhile ago) they were clocked in a 300 Billion. Nasa spending is tit compared to the rest of the US budget.

      IMHO - I don't give a rats ass at how much Nasa spends. I'd rather have an organization blow a few billion dollars on the betterment of human kind, rather than some military complex spending HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS to develop better weapons which in most cases will be used on some third world country.
  • Money Dependence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PeekabooCaribou (544905) <slashdot@bwerp.net> on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:31PM (#4865775) Homepage Journal
    The global dependence on money is appalling and ridiculous. Money as motivation will only bring the human race so far, and probably in the wrong direction. What happens now, when such a major player in the space race is forced to resign because they cannot secure enough meaningless currency to further scientific research in space? It is a terrible waste of human potential.

    Future generations will look at us as petty and shortsighted, squandering finite resources we have no claim to with regards only to our own instant gratification. That is, if there are any resources left for the human race to survive on after a few hundred years.

    Cynical? Not me. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to drive my SUV through a red light while talking on a cell phone.
    • by k3v0 (592611)
      I think they tried the old "let human compassion rule the government" over there already, look where that ended up. I'm not trying to be a total buzzkill but human potential is a double edged sword.
    • You have a fundamentally flawed view of money. Money is not meaningless, it is a universal mechanism by which capitalist economies quantify resources. A dollar represents some amount of resources - the actual amount depends on what resource you're trying to aquire, how much of it is available, and how much other people want it. Very basic capitalism.

      If Russia doesn't have enough money to fund its space program, does not mean some stupid people decided not to print a few extra pieces of paper. It means that Russia cannot reasonably provide the resources to keep up its part of the ISS bargain. A country can only produce so much, and the Russians have decided that it's more important to build critical infrastructure and to feed people to continue building components for the ISS and blasting them into space.

      The only thing more shocking than your ignorance of basic economics and their relevance to society is the fact you got moderated up to 5.

  • by ocie (6659)
    IIS crashes you.

    Oops, that is ISS.
  • Mistake (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Wyatt Earp (1029)
    It was a mistake to have Russia as a "partner".

    NASA/USAF should have bought thier technology outright like LockMart did with the advanced trans-sonic S/VTOL Yak-41.

  • Trouble (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KKin8or (633073)
    Russia seems to be having all sorts of problems these days. I saw a blurb on CNN [cnn.com] the other day about a Russian rocket failing to make orbit and falling back into the atmosphere, destroying the satellite it was carrying. I feel like we hear about something like this in Russia every few months lately. But it makes me wonder-- does the US have this kind of problem (maybe not NASA, but commercial satellites going up, or military stuff), and the media just doesn't make a big deal of it?
    • does the US have this kind of problem (maybe not NASA, but commercial satellites going up, or military stuff), and the media just doesn't make a big deal of it?

      Yeah, it makes the papers, headlines even. I don't remember anything recently, but back in '99 there was a string of six failures resulting in some $3.5 billion in losses, including the explosion of a tried and true Titan IV which destroyed a $1B super secret spy satellite, and the failure of a couple of new Delta III rockets. Plenty of info on Google about these, it was big news back then.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The International Space Station is now neither International nor a Space Station. Discuss amongst yourselves.
  • by Zog The Undeniable (632031) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:38PM (#4865860)
    The Russians may have budget problems, but...

    An American astronaut in space in 1970 was asked by a reporter, "How do you feel?"

    "How would you feel," the astronaut replied, "if you were stuck here, on top of 20,000 parts, each one supplied by the lowest engineering bidder?"

  • what a Beowulf cluster of "In Soviet Russia" posts would look like.
  • Originally (according to a 1998 issue of Popular Science), the ISS was to be completed by 2003.
    • And it would have been if it hadn't been for cutbacks. And don't go blaming just the Russians, NASA's funding has also been cut a lot in recent years.
  • Ah, and here I was wondering since I'm sure IIS *does* have a 15 billion dollar budget...
  • Honestly... (Score:2, Funny)

    by lonedfx (80583)
    When has Russia's role NOT been in trouble as a partner in ISS ? Honestly I'm waiting for the news that'll say :

    Russia's Role in ISS no longer in trouble!

    Now THAT will be news.

    lone, dfx.

  • by ehiris (214677) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:44PM (#4865922) Homepage
    Based on this article [slashdot.org] confusing the ISS with IIS is due to reading slashdot too much. It's safe to assume the person who posted IIS isn't reading slashdot enough to be warned of BIG mistakes (considering the amount of invaluable posts moderated high) which could be made.
  • by Tsar (536185) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:46PM (#4865940) Homepage Journal
    ...can't they compensate with pitch and yaw?
  • The article touches on the fact that their annual funding is about 309 million versus the U.S. budget of 15 billion.

    The article doesn't touch the fact that space engineers in Russia (not in Moscow - in real Russia, where most of space programs are located) have $309 of monthly salary, compared to $15,000 in US. That makes them even in terms of working hours contributed to the project.

    • not in Moscow - in real Russia, where most of space programs are located

      I thought most of the Russian space program wasn't even located in Russia, but rather in Kazakhstan. The launch sites are all there at least: "Russia leases approximately 6,000 sq km of territory enclosing the Baykonur Cosmodrome" (CIA World Factbook)

      • Re:think more (Score:3, Informative)

        by axxackall (579006)
        I estimate that Baykonur Cosmodrome hires less than 0.01% of Russian engineers working on various space programs all over the place from Europe to Far East. Most of them work in Siberia.

        Cosmodrome is the fastest way to burn money (fuel), Institutes and Manufacturing Plants is very slow way to do that (brains are cheapper than fuel) :)

        Besides, Baikonur is not the only Russian Cosmodrome. Plesetsk is another one.

        Finally, due to political reasons and/or due to the location reasons (Kazakhstan is still far away from the equator) Russia plans to move Baikonur lounch pad business to the equatorial part of Pacific ocean. There are some plans about a joint venture project with Australia and/or other countries.

        All facts I know are from public russian sources. Don't call CIA - they should already know it :) CIA doesn't update/complete their World Fuckedbook just by political reasons - the Cold War is far from being over, it's just not for publicity now :(

  • by saskboy (600063) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:51PM (#4865983) Homepage Journal
    Russia has problems that plague the USA, and NASA. Just a few months ago, a person on the ground was killed when a Proton rocket exploded when launched. Less than 20 years ago, NASA lost 7 people to the Challenger disaster. I don't think Russia has any greater problems than NASA.
    In fact I think it is wonderful that they are given the oportunity to contribute to a world class effort like the ISS. Go and look at it. [heavens-above.com]. There isn't anything more spectacular in the space program than that, for the moment. Missions to the Moon are a long way off for NASA.
    The discussion of space exploration always brings out the whiners about how much money it is costing, when it could be feeding the hungry. Oh, yeah? So could all the money put into the tobacco industry, and canceling cigarettes would actually benefit mankind, not removing our link to space.
  • In other news... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Soft (266615) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:52PM (#4866003)
    Russia agreed to double Soyuz production [themoscowtimes.com] starting in 2006. "The RSA's ISS partners will foot the bill". This is required to support the ISS from 2006 (end of previous agreement) to 2010 (availability of new US spaceplane to act as lifeboat instead of Soyuz), preferably with more than 3 crew.

    Hmmm, are we looking forward to another "we need more money or the crew has to leave" every week, like before the service module was launched?

  • by core plexus (599119) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:53PM (#4866007) Homepage
    If you think about it, we need more scientists working to develop new technology. If the Russian space program, or that of any nation, tanks, then those scientists and skilled workers will be forced to seek employment elsewhere, and progress will surely suffer.
  • Budget (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by Kafka_Canada (106443)
    The article touches on the fact that their annual funding is about 309 million versus the U.S. budget of 15 billion.

    Also considered a contributing factor, the Russians' budget was in Roubles, the Americans' in US Dollars.
  • by chriso11 (254041)
    Too bad Russia can't allocate more money. But they have bigger problems - crime, poverty, health, gassing of rebels.

    I think that every $1 that the US aids Russia saves $2 in the military budget, even after acounting for the corruption. Of course, IANAA (accountant). Then again, Worldcom looked pretty solid to accountants, too...

    I just hope Russia is able to maintain their current level of funding for space - every bit counts.

    If humanity does not have a significant presence in space (1000000+ people) within the next 200 years, I fear that we will always be on this rock, overcrowding it and eventually destroying it.

  • Income and prices for most strategic resources including people in Russia 5 times lower than in US. So I suppose in terms of money 300 mill $ sound like not enought, but in terms of resources available Russia has enought to keep most space and military programs running. More important is a problem of brain drain - it is not easy to keep engineers in if I can make $110K /yr in US working on stupid satellite radio project, comparable to $7K while working on military app. in Russia. If they could provide higher life standard back in Russia - many will be back, but when it happen many of us will be to old and kids won't go back.
  • China? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by job0 (134689) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @06:00PM (#4866080)
    Although China has announced [spacedaily.com] that it's planning a permanently manned space station this seems like a waste of time, effort and money. I think it would make more sense to let China either take Russia's place or just let them join the ISS program. But I guess relations between the US and China need to improve before this could happen.
    • Re:China? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ma$$acre (537893)
      Okay, let's go from a bankrupt space program to one which despises us and will steal every bit of technology it can get to reinforce a non-democratically elected regime that is in many ways much worse than Soviet Russia in terms of human rights.
      • I would have thought it would be a bold and intelligent move to ask the Chinese to
        make a contribution. Wouldn't you rather have the Chinese to be working with the ISS partners rather than competing against them.

        I agree that Chinese spies on ISS are simply unacceptable but hasn't China signed all the various non-proliferation agreements and surely the international prestige such a participation would bring them would stop the Chinese doing anything stupid.

        Their human rights record does bother me and it needs to improve but that has never stopped the US getting into bed with countries with similar or worse records.
        • Re:China? (Score:2, Insightful)

          by fucksl4shd0t (630000)
          Wouldn't you rather have the Chinese to be working with the ISS partners rather than competing against them.

          Considering that the competition between the US and the Soviet Union is what took us to the moon in 10-15 years, and competition between Nazi Germany and the rest of the world is what brought us rockets in the first place, I'd say some competition in the market could do us all some good.

  • by Alethes (533985) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @06:09PM (#4866160)
    1) The International Space Station becomes the American Space Station due to the lack of participation from other nations.

    2) 10 years from now, the full project is launched. Yeah, this is hypothetical, just deal.

    3) Teachers get excited and want to show their students the breaking news at cnn.com.

    4) Censorware detects "ASS" all over the site and denies the teachers and students access to the biggest NASA news in years.
  • by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @06:33PM (#4866422) Homepage Journal
    I'm a former NASA nut, used to research the Soviet space program, etc., and so was very forgiving...
    This ISS program is a turkey, though, and we should cut our losses.

    The problem is simply that the ONLY reason for the existence of the ISS is to KEEP PEOPLE EMPLOYED. First of all, NASA itself as a beaurocracy has pushed and pushed for the only mega-project that it could keep getting funding for because a beaurocracy wants to EAT. They couldn't get funding for more sensible programs like a shuttle replacement, or other more mundane but necessary things, so they push for funding for the incredibly wasteful ISS because $15 billion a year wasted is $15 billion a year they WANT, no matter what it's for.
    If they can't have $15 billion a year for sensible things, they'll take $15 billion for non-sensible things, just so long as no one loses their job.

    As far as the Russian's involvement, it was actually the PLAN to get them involved simply to keep them employed! The Clinton administration changed the ISS from a US program, space station Freedom, to the ISS, almost exclusively to keep former soviet rocket scientists at their jobs instead of following money to other, more threatening sources. That was almost the sole reason for it.
    That, actually, made a least a LITTLE bit of sense. Sort of.
    Anyway, you could argue that with the Russian's participation the ISS has been more successful that it would have been otherwise, even WITH them dragging the program down - because with billions thrown down a rathole in either case, at least this way it was a bit more interesting, and did at least give the US and Russia something to strengthen our ties.
  • Jeez, didn't you see Armageddon? They wouldn't be strapped now if they hadn't spent so many rubles hauling cigarettes up to their orbital refueling stations.
  • well, gee the poor bankrupt russian government doesn't seem to have enough money to chip in on the peaceful space station project.

    Now, just perhaps, perhaps if they weren't building 500 or more new sixth generation topol-m strategicmissiles [centrexnews.com] they wouldn't be so "broke".

    Perhaps if the russians weren't building over 200 underground nuclear war fighting bunkers including one as large as the entire DC area inside the beltway [autentico.org] , then perhaps they wouldn't be so "broke".

    Nope, IMO the russian leaders, like most insane megalomanaic world leaders, are big fat liars [tldm.org].

  • Did I hear things or is everybody ignoring some recent news about ISS? A few days ago I heard that USA and Russia had agreed to grow ISS's crew some people more by 2004 or 2006. Sincerly, I didn't take serious attention as I was running out to work and saw just a glimpse of some meeting showing on TV. Did anyone here saw this thing?

    And how can this fit with this news?

    On what concerns the objective of ISS... Well it was and it is a turkey... One of you guys pointed correctly. While politicians (both sides!) played Space Station to keep people happy, Science and all the rest went through the pipe.

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik

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