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Cold War Standoff Over ISS Toilet 417

Posted by timothy
from the can't-even-agree-on-a-name dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The International Space Station, once a place where astronauts would share food and facilities, is said to be embroiled in a Cold War-like stand-off after a Russian cosmonaut complained he is no longer allowed to use a US toilet or the US gym machine. Gennady Padalka, a veteran Russian cosmonaut, says that space officials from Russia, the United States and other countries now require cosmonauts and astronauts to eat their own food and follow stringent rules on access to other facilities, including lavatories. Padalka, who will be the station's next commander, says the arguments date back to 2003, when Russia started charging other space agencies for the resources used by their astronauts and other partners in space station responded in kind. 'Cosmonauts are above the ongoing squabble, no matter what officials decide,' says Padalka. 'We are grown-up, well-educated and good-mannered people and can use our own brains to create normal relationship. It's politicians and bureaucrats who can't reach agreement, not us, cosmonauts and astronauts.' While sharing food in the past helped the crew feel like a team, the new rules oblige Russian cosmonauts and US astronauts to eat their own food. 'They also recommend us to only use national toilets,' says Padalka. 'What is going on has an adverse effect on our work.'"
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Cold War Standoff Over ISS Toilet

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  • by Black Rabbit (236299) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:24AM (#27401707)
    What fucking idiot politician thought this up?
  • (I)SS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sneeka2 (782894) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:26AM (#27401733)

    Politicians: Hard at work to put the "I" in ISS...

  • by east coast (590680) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:38AM (#27401905)
    Seriously though, can't the crew just tell the people on the ground to shove it up their ass?

    I think that's pretty much what they're saying: 'Cosmonauts are above the ongoing squabble, no matter what officials decide,' says Padalka. 'We are grown-up, well-educated and good-mannered people and can use our own brains to create normal relationship. It's politicians and bureaucrats who can't reach agreement, not us, cosmonauts and astronauts.'

    It's refreshing to have such a public statement of defiance in the face of stupidity. Too bad Republicans and Democrats (not just the politicians but also their brown shirts on the ground) don't do the same in a very forward manner. Yes, Slashdot drones, I'm looking at you.
  • Re:Do it anyway (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Scutter (18425) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:41AM (#27401959) Journal

    What are the bosses going to do, stop by their desk and give them a stern talking-to?

    The alternative is "you never go to space again and your career as an astronaut/cosmonaut is over". There have been lots of stories in the past about how astronauts are treated like lab rats but they put up with it because it's the only way to get to orbit.

  • Re:Ruskies Plan (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Em Emalb (452530) <ememalb&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:41AM (#27401961) Homepage Journal

    Captain Ramius: It reminds me of the heady days of Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin when the world trembled at the sound of our rockets. Now they will tremble again - at the sound of our silence. The order is: engage the silent drive.

  • Sounds familiar... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:41AM (#27401965) Homepage

    It reminds me of a movie [imdb.com] I've seen before.

    How childish a thing to do.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:44AM (#27402031) Journal

    Unfortunately ALL of them qualify as "fucking idiots"

    Fixed that for you. You had an extra word in there.

    Why do we elect these bozos as our leaders?

    Because the bozo in my political party stands for all that is just and righteous, while the bozo in the other political party is out to destroy America as we know it.

  • Invisible Lines (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scubamage (727538) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @10:54AM (#27402173)
    You know, its amazing to think how much progress has been destroyed, avoided, or never attained because of stupid, idiotic, invisible little lines drawn up by a bunch of dead men. Maybe that's why I love the internet? It's kind of above this bullshit.
  • Re:Do it anyway (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EddyPearson (901263) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:01AM (#27402249) Homepage

    "Both sides are being petty children."

    Such a departure from the US and Russia of old...

  • by p0tat03 (985078) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:04AM (#27402309)
    The same reason perfectly wealthy people quibble over pennies on a dinner bill? When scarcity is no longer a concern, you're still left with the assholes of the world :)
  • Re:Do it anyway (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sshir (623215) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:08AM (#27402365)

    Russians began it by charging to use "their" resources

    Actually, Russians started to charge for the ride to the station which is completely understandable considering costs involved.

    Summary is rather inflammatory by calling it "charging for resources".

    Yea, the toilet thing is a really petty retaliation. But this is the era of asymmetric warfare after all...

  • Re:It's because (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:08AM (#27402369)
    It's purely a political 'pissing contest'.
  • by GooberToo (74388) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:09AM (#27402383)

    Its actually not what it sounds like. Russia has been making money with space tourists and the US does not want to fund the extra wear and tear forced on the sparse resources.

    Should US tax dollars really be used to allow for billionaires to play around in space? No. The simple fact is, it is VERY expensive to repair/replace anything in space and Russia is increasing the wear on various components by bringing additional people aboard who provide no benefit what-so-ever. In a very reasonable and appropriate response, the US' position is, if the Russians want to place additional burdens on sparse resources, they need to do so only on their own resources. Contrary to the idiocy of the article, its a very reasonable position to hold. If Russia wants their complaint to be heard, all they have to do is start being reasonable and responsible. Until such time, they can STFU and burden their own resources. If they don't like it, they can start acting responsibly.

  • by peragrin (659227) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:10AM (#27402391)

    Unmanned missions can cover the issues that come up with manned spaceflight very well. Things like this need to be sorted out now. Like themovie 2010 astranauts need to be able to tell their governments to fsck off or we are going to die.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:16AM (#27402513) Journal

    No, I'm not, but may I ask what you based that assumption on?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:17AM (#27402529)

    I thought they just beamed the crap directly from your colon into the anti-matter reaction chamber or Jefferies tubes or something.

    That's disgusting. The Jefferies tubes are there for people to crawl through when they want to bypass the elevator system, steal stuff, carry out assassinations etc. You can't just fill them with crap!

  • On Soviet Slashdot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aquatone282 (905179) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:20AM (#27402583)

    . . . tired old memes bore you.

  • by sjames (1099) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:25AM (#27402659) Homepage

    Brought to you by the makers of the Cold War where supposed grownups threatened to render large parts of the world uninhabitable and gave a generation of children nightmares due to a disagreement over economic systems.

  • Re:Government. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:34AM (#27402793)

    The astronauts in the ISS should declare independence and form their own state in the ISS.

          Fine, but they shouldn't expect any supply missions or help getting back down...

          If you are going to declare "independence" it's a good idea to make sure that you are really "independent" first.

  • by fugue (4373) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:36AM (#27402813) Homepage

    Its actually not what it sounds like. Russia has been making money with space tourists and the US does not want to fund the extra wear and tear forced on the sparse resources.

    That is reasonable, but it's not what the article says. If the rule were "Tourists must not filch food or gym fees or waste disposal from (other nations') taxpayers" then I'd be for it. But what the hell is the point of an international collaboration if there is no international collaboration? If this makes the 'nauts' lives worse, it is a stupid idea. What is the cost of training an astronaut and putting her in orbit vs. the cost of buying a foreigner lunch every so often (or all the time) in order to foster an atmosphere of cooperation? We now have less effective teams in space. As a taxpayer, I feel ripped off.

  • by MadJo (674225) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:43AM (#27402909) Homepage Journal

    Though for some people, their dick is what's actually in charge.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:46AM (#27402981)

    So I bring up tourists and tell them "only use my resources", and then I can shift my usage more heavily to your resources because that's not against the rules? Sounds to me like you're still paying for me to bring up tourists.

    Practial economics aside, if we want to be mad at the lack of collaboration, let's look at the one-sided decision by Russia to send tourists to the station over the specific protests of their "partners", ignoring the interest said "partners" have in the matter.

    So long as Russia is engaged in unilateral commercial ventures using ISS, the partnership and collaboration is a sham. You want the crew to get back to pratices that foster team-work, start by getting ISS focused on its mission again.

  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:13PM (#27403353) Homepage Journal

    Why do we elect these bozos as our leaders?

    Because everyone else doesn't want to be in politics?

  • by Flytrap (939609) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:36PM (#27403665)

    The russians? I mean the summary says quite clearly the russians started it and if they did I'd also start charging right back at them...

    I doubt that that will be a wise move for any nation, considering that the Russians will be the only way to and from the station for several years; they also have the only regular cargo shuttle (the Europeans managed a single experimental trip that promisses a significant improvement in cargo capacity); and the emergancy evacuation shuttle is a Russian soyuze attached to the station.

    I'd say that nobody is in a position to dictate terms to the Russians, at least for the next 8-odd years.

  • by Macrat (638047) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:44PM (#27403803)

    Should US tax dollars really be used to allow for billionaires to play around in space? No.

    US tax dollars are needed to bail out the billionaires from their mortgages.

  • by Vadim Makarov (529622) <makarov@vad1.com> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:45PM (#27403805) Homepage
    Beancounters may disagree, but I feel space tourism, even when run by whatever single nation, is a long-term overally good thing for every nation participating in space exploration.
  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@infOPENBSDamous.net minus bsd> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:16PM (#27404195) Homepage

    Perhaps doing so and then rebuilding it "as its forefathers intended" (and accounting for current situations) might be a good plan.

    Its forefathers intended it to be a nation run by and for wealthy white men. Which, for the most part, it still is.

    Its forefathers intended it to be an agrarian, rural nation -- Jefferson, for example, believed that large cities were "pestilential to the morals, the health and the liberties of man."

    Rebuilding the U.S. "as its forefathers intended" would mean a lot of regression; "accounting for current situations" leaves little relevance to many of their ideas.

    The Founders had a few good ideas -- the U.S. ought to avoid foreign wars and mind its own business, government ought to be representative and its powers limited, and those limits should be fixed in writing. And I have to give Washington serious props for doing the Cincinnatus [wikipedia.org] thing.

    But by and large, they were slave-owning aristocrats, and we ought not worship them or their ideals.

  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:30PM (#27404431) Homepage Journal
    "So you're a Republican?"

    Well, that worked during the Bush admin...and when the Republicans had both houses.

    I think at this point, you'd have to say he was a Democrat, since they are in charge.....

  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:39PM (#27404571) Homepage Journal
    Interesting arguments, but, you gotta admit, as we've gotten further and further away from those ideals, and ways of life...

    We've gotten more greed, more violence, more sense of entitlement, less drive, less personal responsibility for ones own actions, less entrepreneurial, more broken families, and general falling apart of things that used to unite us all in the US.

    It certainly hasn't been getting better over the past 20 years, that's for sure...

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:15PM (#27404985) Journal

    What if Russia simply cannot afford to collaborate in ISS without that additional commercial revenue? If it's the matter of "we can only do it this way, or else not at all"?

    Given the recent history of ISS and U.S. space programme, it would seem that it wouldn't get far without Russian involvement, whatever quirks it may have.

  • by GooberToo (74388) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:22PM (#27406159)

    Will, if you want to pull that out, let's not forget the US is basically footing a huge part of the entire Russian space program to prevent their Russian rocket scientists from otherwise being employed by hostile nations wishing to develope their own ICBM programs.

    It's safe to say my "free ride" comment is accurate. The charity they receive more than makes up for the rides the US has received. In the least, its a break even - especially since the US normally has to kick in additional dollars to pay for the rides too.

  • by nametaken (610866) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @03:46PM (#27406549)

    I saw this movie. US and Russian astronauts who would otherwise get along are forced to treat each other like cold war nations in space?

    I think it was supposed to happen in 2010. Fucking idiot politicians.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @04:30PM (#27407295) Homepage Journal

    Oh, God, where to start?

    We didn't seem to have as much violence

    Murder rates were about 25% higher in 1989 than they are now. Google "US homicide rate by year" and you will find a ton of documentation.

    parents weren't afraid to let their kids play outside

    The mid-Eighties were the height of the "Satanic ritual child abuse" witch-hunt hysteria. By the late Eighties, the idea that the world was a horrible scary place waiting to eat the poor innocent children was firmly implanted in the public consciousness.

    Heck, only a few short years before then...you could fsck all you wanted, and the worst you had to fear was getting a shot from the Dr. to clear up any STD you had.

    AIDS was first identified in 1981, and HIV was identified as the pathogen responsible in 1983, IIRC. By 1989, the risks of heterosexual as well as homosexual transmission were well known ... and the drugs available at the time would kill you faster than the disease itself would, as opposed to the current generation of AIDS drugs which, while they still have some pretty nasty side effects, do allow HIV-infected people to live relatively healthy lives for a number of years after infection.

    we weren't being overrun by our neighbors from the south as badly as now

    America has always gone through ebbs and flows of immigration, and corresponding bouts of hysteria about it. The current anti-immigrant dustup is no different from that which greeted the Scots-Irish, the Germans, the Irish Irish, the Chinese, the Italians, the Poles, etc. Note that most of those people's grandkids and great-grandkids now speak English and call themselves Americans. As for the specific issue of immigration from Mexico, anyone who lives in the Southwest can tell you that it's not exactly a new phenomenon.

    Sure, the tech today is SOOO much better, but, it wasn't being twisted and used by the govt. against us quite so badly.

    There was this little thing back then called the "Cold War." Ever heard of it? I sure as hell did. I was stationed in Europe when the Wall came down. You want to talk about governments using technology against their citizens, well, holding most of the world's population in a giant game of nuclear "chicken" pretty much takes the cake.

    You're not remembering the Eighties. You're remembering a mythical Golden Age, which always seems to occur somewhere between two decades and two centuries in the past. No matter who you talk to, in any country, in any era, there's always The Time When Things Were Better. Except if you go back and look at the facts, you'll see that it hardly ever was.

All the evidence concerning the universe has not yet been collected, so there's still hope.

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