NASA, no ticket to ride, Georgia conflict may keep Astronauts down
SOLARLIFE | August 14, 2008 at 02:57 pmby
218 views | 5 Recommendations | 8 comments
The Georgia conflict may soon jump into space.
2010 latest the shuttle is grounded. The gap
should fill russian transporters. Russia may
not be wiiling to do so, or increase th price.
The russian cliper space craft, reusable
replaces Soyuz 2012.
Thursday, August 14, 2008 Washington, we have a problem... The latest international news, of course, is that the Russians are throwing their weight around in Georgia and most everyone else, including the US, doesn't approve. This might all quiet down and blow over; that's happened before. Or it might not, in which case relations between the US and Russia might be less friendly for a while. This could make life interesting for NASA in 2011.
That's when NASA's current contract with the Russians for Soyuz flights to the space station ends. I expect that the Russians will provide flights through the end of the current contract even if relations deteriorate; hard cash doesn't hypnotise them the way it used to, but it still carries weight. There might be some delays and some unforeseen extra fees (say, a little fuel surcharge), but they'll deliver . . . on those flights.
Trouble is, NASA is currently in the early stages of trying to negotiate an extension to that contract. And that might prove difficult. More precisely, it's already difficult, and now it might prove impossible.
It's not so much that the Russians will completely refuse to sell. They've figured out this "capitalism" stuff. Unfortunately, they've also gone on to more advanced concepts like "market dominance", "monopoly", and "price gouging". A far more likely way for negotiations to collapse is that they simply set their ticket price higher than Congress is willing to pay.
The price might also be more than money. There's already a non-monetary problem on the US side: the Iran Non-Proliferation Act bars buying from the Russians unless the Russians stop helping Iran with its nuclear programme, and Congress is balking at giving NASA another exemption from this. Two can play that game. What if the Russian government's price for more Soyuz rides is that the US concede Russian control of parts of Georgia?
Uwe PaschenThese members have powered this story: