Wednesday, 14 May 2014

space-race, game-face

Even during the height of the Cold War, American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts flaunted the diplomatic rhetoric of their governments and carried out many joint operations. I remember those mission patches with Snoopy and the Soviet Bear mascots for the Soyuz project and I recall how the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, this past-future is just a few years hence but still set in a multi-polar world, where cooperation ultimately won the day.

Now, however, Russia is threatening to respond to the array of sanctions that the West has unleashed in kind—by denying the US the means to launch satellites in orbit and grounding NASA with no access to the International Space Station. Since the mothballing of the shuttle program, the US has become almost exclusively reliant on Russian launch vehicles and logistical support and Russia is now in a position to withhold such assistance. Meanwhile, threats—dares are being swapped over restricting public access to global positioning bearings, but that would cause the too much separation-anxiety for smart-phone and Navi (GPS) users—although Russia has its own system (independent from the US naval application made available to the world) as Europe is developing its own, as well. The reporting cites a number of officials saying that the decision to no longer support American military applications would be economic suicide for a Russian space program riddled with accidents and near-misses, but I think that's a lot of hot-air and that other clients would quickly be found to fill the void. What do you think? Who has painted himself into a corner?  I can only say it is time for extra-terrestrials to visit and put all these petty skirmishes in perspective.