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Russian-American Space Cooperation Becomes Controversial
April 9, 2014 11:41


(Source: http://m.lenta.ru/news/2008/08/13/orion)

Decision of the U.S. to suspend space cooperation with Russia except the International Space Station (ISS) has caused a controversial reaction among American experts, many of whom consider this move a mistake. Some NASA specialists believe that this could adversely affect the national space program, as well as the ISS project.

"During any crisis the worst thing we can do is to stop talking to each other," U.S. astronaut Ronald Garan, the ISS crew member in 2011, wrote in his twitter. "We should not sacrifice what works trying to save what is not working," believes the expert.

"People are not happy with this," one of the NASA employees, who did not want to reveal his name, commented on the partial suspension of contacts with Russia. "Everyone is asking: "Why are we doing this? Why NASA was chosen to penalize Russia?" he told to theverge.com news site.

Independent experts also appraised the decision negatively. "The space cooperation was going on even during the Cold War," said the deputy director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University Henry Hertzfeld, reminding of the Soviet-American project "Soyuz-Apollo". Elliott Pulham, the head of the Space Foundation, which supports space researches, deplored the fact that Washington's decision damages joint research programs, although, by his words, this step (the decision to suspend joint projects) is understandable. “The peaceful international partnership in the projects like ISS is important for both formal and informal diplomacy,” Elliott Pulham, the head of the Space Foundation said. "Suspending contacts between NASA and Roskosmos is unprecedented," the professor of international space law at the University of Nebraska Franz Von der Dunk noted. The relationships between these agencies "have always been extremely friendly." Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts have always had mutual respect for each other, the expert underlined.

Well-known American expert and author of several books on the history of space researches James Oberg is concerned that if these relations will be undermined and there will be distrust, it may cause damage to the space programs of both parties. He also finds disgraceful the desire of NASA to use tensions between Washington and Moscow for solving its financial problems.

U.S. stated their desire to finish with the dependence on Russia. Announcing the suspension of cooperation with the Roskosmos, the American space agency has expressed its intention  to complete the development of its own manned spacecraft as soon as possible and to get rid of the "dependency on Russia" when sending American astronauts to the ISS. If the Congress does not allocate the necessary funds, the United States "will continue transferring millions of dollars to Russia," NASA warned.

NASA astronauts are delivered to the ISS by Russian ships. After the U.S stopped using space shuttles in 2011, delivery of NASA astronauts to the ISS is performed only by Russian Soyuz space crafts. The agreement between NASA and Roscosmos is constantly extended. The last time it was prolonged in January, 2013 and will be valid until the end of 2020.

Currently, the delivery of one NASA astronaut costs of 65 million dollars. "This statement is so depressing that it's even hard to believe," Oberg said. "It is very sad that NASA has been instructed to use this crisis to earn points in domestic policy for the White House," the analyst Marco Caceres said. According to him, seeking for increase of the governmental expenditures from the Republican opposition in Congresss in such manner if simply dishonest. U.S. President's press secretary Jay Carney assured journalists on Thursday that each federal agency decided independently how it would cut cooperation with Russia.

"The decision to suspend contacts with Russian organizations was taken by the U.S. government, not by NASA", assured Joanne Gabrynowicz, the former professor of international space law at the University of Mississippi. In accordance with new rules announced by NASA, the subject for suspension are the contacts with members of the Russian government agencies. The visits, bilateral meetings, television and videoconferences and even message exchanges via e-mail will be cancelled. All projects except the ISS will be suspended. 




Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: NASA Roscosmos International Space Station Space  

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