April 3, 2014
Russian Space Official Says NASA Statement To Suspend Contracts Was ‘Too Harsh’
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
A senior space official with the Russian space program has countered NASA’s move to suspend contracts with Roscosmos on several projects, stating that it will have a global backlash on space research and may harm future partnerships with the Americans.
Ivan Moiseyev, Director of the Space Policy Institute told RIA Novosti on Thursday that despite harming global space partnerships, this will not be the end of the Russian space program.
On Wednesday, April 2, NASA’s Michael O’Brien issued a statement announcing that the US space agency would be suspending several contracts it has with Russia due to the ongoing crisis between them and the Ukraine. He maintained that the suspension would not affect operations and activities pertaining to the International Space Station.
In light of that statement, Moiseyev went on the offensive:
"The statement was way too harsh," he told RIA Novosti, warning that the move would have a “rather significant” impact on space exploration project on a global scale.
"Modern space science is a global phenomenon that benefits all countries," Moiseyev noted. "It means that many large-scale projects require an international effort. A freeze on cooperation will spur a serious backlash against the international space program."
He added that this move was something Russia had not seen coming and would never want for space science. But, he maintained, the space agency would simply adjust to the new reality and move forward, despite the possibility of catastrophic repercussions that may follow.
Moiseyev told RIA Novosti in an earlier interview that Russia didn’t depend much on the US when it comes to the space industry.
As far as dependence goes, the US currently relies on Russia to maintain an American presence in space. When the Space Shuttle program retired in 2011, NASA’s only way of sending astronauts to the ISS was to pay Russia tens of millions of dollars for a seat on the Soyuz. NASA is now building partnerships with several privatized companies to bring manned space launches back to American soil.
Leading the way in the manned space race is SpaceX, which plans on having a manned space launch system ready as early as 2015. The company’s founder and CEO, Elon Musk, also dreams of one day sending man to Mars. That reality is still a dozen or more years out.
Returning human spaceflight to American soil and ending reliance on Russia is a major goal for the White House as well.
"This has been a top priority of the Obama Administration's for the past five years, and had our plan been fully funded, we would have returned American human spaceflight launches -- and the jobs they support -- back to the United States next year,” according to a statement from NASA, as cited by CNN.
"With the reduced level of funding approved by Congress, we're now looking at launching from U.S. soil in 2017. The choice here is between fully funding the plan to bring space launches back to America or continuing to send millions of dollars to the Russians. It's that simple," continues the statement.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea in the Ukraine has been condemned as a violation of international law by Western leaders, who have called on Moscow to pull back its tens of thousands of troops from around Ukraine’s eastern border.
Russia maintains the forces are there for military exercises and will return to base when those are finished.