Russian Space Agency Chief Wants Shuttle Extension
The head of Russia’s space agency said Friday that he had hopes that NASA would extend the lifespan of its shuttle fleet, and had indications that it was possible.
"From some sources we have learned that it is possible to extend the life of the shuttle beyond 2011," RIA news agency quoted Roscosmos chief Anatoly Perminov.
"Then the situation would change substantially and it would be possible to work jointly with the Americans, unlike now, when the main burden (for the ISS) lies with the Russian side."
Although Interfax news agency reported that Perminov said he had not received the information through official sources, NASA’s new chief Charles Bolden is expected to visit Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome at the end of September.
But NASA, which has plans for manned missions to the moon as well as Mars, is facing huge budget constraints.
A White House panel of space experts concluded that NASA’s plans simply don’t match up with its budget for future space exploration.
"Under the budget that was proposed, exploration beyond Earth is not viable," panel member Edward Crawley, a professor of aeronautics at MIT, told the Associated Press earlier this month.
The panel found that NASA would require about $3 billion each year in addition to the agency’s $18 billion annual budget.
NASA is currently in the process of developing a new capsule to replace the retired shuttle. However, the new transport vehicle will not be ready until about 2015, leaving about a five-year window during which NASA will rely on Roscosmos for future space flights.
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