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  Ukraine crisis, Russia and space program politics (Page 3)

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Author Topic:   Ukraine crisis, Russia and space program politics
Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-29-2014 11:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceAholic:
General Valery Gerasimov (Russian Military Staff Chief of Staff) has just stated that that fresh US sanctions against Moscow could compromise US astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).
Interfax reports that it was Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin who first raised the issue today and said:
If their aim is to deliver a blow to Russia's rocket-building sector, then by default, they would be exposing their astronauts on the ISS.

Sanctions are always a boomerang which come back and painfully hit those who launched them.

On edit: What Rogozin is referring to are increasing concerns by U.S. politicians on the use of Russian engines on U.S. rockets, as currently employed by United Launch Alliance's Atlas V and Orbital Sciences' Antares boosters.

But Rogozin many not have just his country's interests in mind; he may also be worried about his own coffers. As SpaceX's Elon Musk pointed out during a recent press conference, Rogozin is on the list of Russian officials whose financial assets fall under the U.S. sanctions.

How is it that we're sending hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer money at a time when Russia is in the process of invading Ukraine? It would be hard to imagine some way that Dmitry Rogozin is not benefiting personally from the dollars that are being sent there.
Rogozin today tweeted:
After analyzing the sanctions against our space industry, I suggest to the USA to bring their astronauts to the International Space Station using a trampoline.
To wit, Musk replied in kind:
Sounds like this might be a good time to unveil the new Dragon Mk 2 spaceship that SpaceX has been working on with NASA. No trampoline needed.
Musk followed up, noting the "cover will drop" on May 29. "Actual flight design hardware of crew Dragon, not a mockup."

328KF
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posted 04-29-2014 06:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rogozin trampoline comment was picked by NBC News during their evening broadcast tonight.

SpaceAholic
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posted 05-14-2014 12:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Russia reaffirms possible fallout to space cooperation (Reuters):
Russia cast doubt on the long-term future of the International Space Station, a showcase of post-Cold War cooperation, as it retaliated on Tuesday against U.S. sanctions over Ukraine.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Moscow would reject a U.S. request to prolong the orbiting station's use beyond 2020, and bar Washington from using Russian-made rocket engines to launch military satellites.

Moscow took the action, which also included suspending operation of GPS satellite navigation system sites on its territory from June, in response to U.S. plans to deny export licences for high-technology items that could help the Russian military.

"We are very concerned about continuing to develop high-tech projects with such an unreliable partner as the United States, which politicises everything," Rogozin told a news conference.

fredtrav
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posted 05-14-2014 12:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fredtrav   Click Here to Email fredtrav     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Could we continue to use the station if we so choose without their participation?

carmelo
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posted 05-14-2014 12:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Some questions:
  1. With ISS gone in 2020 is still need COTS (considers also the Russian ban of rocket engine sales, that affect Atlas V, the launch vehicle for Boeing and Sierra Nevada Corporation).

  2. What next for USA? All the funds on SLS/Orion?

  3. What next for Russia? Collaboration with China and India, or a Soyuz/Mir 2.0 program integrated with the money of "space tourism"?

  4. What next for Europe? Is possible a partnership with NASA for SLS/Orion program (maybe with lander and mission modules built by ESA)?

Orthon
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posted 05-14-2014 12:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Orthon   Click Here to Email Orthon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a surprise? I said a long time ago that it was folly for the United States to believe that politics would not interfere with the operation of the ISS.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-14-2014 12:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
2020 is a long way away. Despite what Rogozin says (or rather tweets) today (or tomorrow), I wouldn't go counting Russia out of the space station just yet.

Keep in mind, pulling out of the ISS hurts Russia too, perhaps even more than it hurts the U.S., and ceasing engine sales to the U.S. only deprives Russia of that capital.

(For its part, United Launch Alliance says they are unaware of any restrictions on RD-180 sales, but as a contingency, it has a two year supply of engines to tide it over as it switches payloads from Atlas to Delta, if necessary.)

Rogozin seems to have made his statements without briefing Roscosmos or the other relevant divisions of the government first. Time will tell if his statements were just talk.

noroxine
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posted 05-14-2014 07:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for noroxine   Click Here to Email noroxine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Rogozin seems to have made his statements without briefing Roscosmos or the other relevant divisions of the government first. Time will tell if his statements were just talk.
Here are details.

Fra Mauro
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posted 05-14-2014 07:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It does pose a number of questions and scenarios, depending most especially on how our federal government responds. It could boost our manned space program, or give the next President an excuse to shut the whole thing down. However, it is 6 years away and this might be a bluff.

328KF
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posted 05-14-2014 08:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by noroxine:
Here are details.
This transcript is very detailed with respect to Russia's intentions, not just random tweets from Rogozin. While they are somewhat contradictory at times, the forward looking plan is clear... they're done working with the U.S.

This comment was particularly frank:

These could even be international projects, but it would be us who would choose our partners and decide with whom to cooperate in near and outer space exploration.
2020 is the next decision point in which they can opt out, and a lot can happen in the next six years or so. The political landscape will be completely different by that time. But if they go to their leadership and start the ball rolling toward moving beyond ISS, the policy decisions made in the current environment will be difficult, if not impossible, to overturn.

SpaceAholic
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posted 05-14-2014 10:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Decision point for Russian extrication from the program would be much sooner then 2020 (for both the US and Russia) as there are fiscal, political and programmatic ramifications requiring attention to prep for whatever course of action is elected.

Cozmosis22
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posted 05-14-2014 10:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Orthon:
This is a surprise? I said a long time ago that it was folly for the United States to believe that politics would not interfere with the operation of the ISS.

Concur, it was only a matter of time.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-14-2014 01:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There's a difference between "interfering with the operation of the ISS" and political posturing.

On the same day that Rogozin made his statements, Russia and the United States worked together to bring a crew home safely from the space station — without any interference from politics.

Rogozin knows whatever he says is going to be picked up by the media. He is playing politics through the press (our politicians do the same). Do not confuse his statements with actual actions. Case in point, from NASA:

We have not received any official notification from the Government of Russia on any changes in our space cooperation at this point.
Further to that are Bolden's own comments made yesterday at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center:
Our recommendation to the partners, and all of the partners have agreed that they're going to look at extending the life of the station to 2024 ... And I would remind everyone, the first two people to sign the proposal to do so were Mr. [Oleg] Ostapenko and me. Mr. Ostapenko [the head of] Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. You're talking about diplomatic action, and I'm talking about just operational interaction between Roscosmos and NASA. So, until we get word from somebody else, then nothing's changed for us right now.

issman1
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posted 05-14-2014 03:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just wondering how this may affect ISS crew assignments whilst Soyuz offers sole access? A great pity to see the space station becoming a geopolitical football.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-14-2014 03:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rogozin's comments have had no effect on crew assignments or the operation of the ISS through at least 2017 (in terms of both crews and vehicles).

The station is no more a political tool today than it has been for the past 15 years. This is not the first time Russia has announced (grandiose) plans, and it likely won't be the last.

p51
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posted 05-14-2014 04:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No news here. Like Robert just posted, this has happened plenty of times in history.

Easy to make a threat with such a long lead time, so much can change between now and then. And if/when it does, the leader (still Putin at that point, if he has anything to say about it) can just say, "We changed directions since we said that," just like a Western leader can say, "Hey, that was the last leader who promised we'd be doing XYZ within ten years..."

SpaceAholic
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posted 05-14-2014 04:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Putin's ambitions and associated actions have been pretty consistent - the West as well in that it has constantly mis/underestimated him. As Putin implements his strategic vision of reasserting dominance over bordering nation states in conflict with western interests, expect bi-lateral cooperation to include US/Russian space to be placed under additional stress.

SkyMan1958
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posted 05-14-2014 05:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Obviously the Russians are not going to be doing very much new or interesting in space without pairing up with some international power(s). They can talk about their plans all they want, but without money the plans are dead on arrival.

In my opinion, the interesting potential partner will be China. Will they pair up with Russia in space so that they can learn all they need to know from the Russians? The Chinese certainly have had a track record of getting Soviet/Russian technical data and then kicking the Soviets/Russians to the curb. Given that we are talking about the ISS potentially going belly up in 2020 I would think the Chinese would already be well along their space "flight path", and they may not need to play the Russian card.

Also, let's not forget that the only user of the engine that the Russians aren't going to be selling to us any more is us. If they put a hold on sales of the engine, it's their own companies and workers that are going to go belly up.

SpaceAholic
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posted 05-14-2014 07:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SkyMan1958:
If they put a hold on sales of the engine, it's their own companies and workers that are going to go belly up.
Already baked into the cake, if for no other reason then U.S. lawmakers have now been reminded of the folly of reliance upon Russia for national security technology. Companies like SpaceX are ready to step in and fill the gap.

328KF
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posted 05-15-2014 07:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maybe Rogozin should have spent more time fixing the problems he was appointed to fix and less time talking. Another Proton rocket failed during launch tonight.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-17-2014 04:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fox News interviewed astronaut Ron Garan about the current situation:

dom
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posted 08-14-2014 01:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An interesting and sober BBC News analysis of the present state of American-Russian space co-operation. One sentence made me smile - "America needs Russian technology to spy on Russia"!

Glint
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posted 08-14-2014 02:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, when you win the race to the moon, apparently the spoils include access to the loser's moon faring assets.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-14-2014 02:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dom:
...of the present state of American-Russian space co-operation.
Not so much present as it is outdated.

Rogozin's posturing turned out to be just that: Russia has since stated it has no intention of ceasing engine sales to the U.S., or backing out of the space station or preventing use of the Soyuz. It was all talk by a politician more concerned over the sanctions personally affecting him than any solid threat to either country's space program.

Despite what they might sometimes profess, Russia needs the U.S. just as much, if not more than the U.S. needs Russia to continue its own space program. They hold out China as an alternative but China is not a solution to Russia's desire to keep its own programs funded.

SpaceAholic
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posted 09-03-2014 12:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Washington Times: U.S. military reliance on Russian rocket raises security fears
The rising tensions with Russia over its aggression in Ukraine is creating national security concerns inside the Pentagon, where the military’s largest satellite program is reliant on a rocket engine produced by Moscow.

The Air Force said it has begun looking for alternatives to the RD-180 rocket engines for its Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program — the fourth largest line item in the U.S. defense budget — now that Russia has threatened to cut off the technology in its tit-for-tat struggle with the U.S.

Lawmakers and national security analysts said they were aghast that the military allowed itself to become so dependent on Russian military technology during an era of uneasy relations.

“What were we thinking? It’s clear now that relying on Russia for rocket engines was a policy based on hope, not good judgment,” said Michael V. Hayden, a four-star Air Force general who headed the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency before his retirement in 2009.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-03-2014 12:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The article's last paragraph notes:
Last month, for the first time since the Ukraine crisis began, the United Launch Alliance received its first two Russian RD-180 rocket engines from NPO Energomash at its launch facility in Decatur, Alabama.
Further to that, deliveries are expected to continue beyond those two engines. Per SpaceNews:
"We expect another shipment of three engines later this year," ULA spokeswoman Jessica Rye added. The engines, which power ULA's Atlas 5 rocket, are produced by NPO Energomash of Khimki, Russia, and imported by RD-Amross, a joint venture between Energomash and United Technologies Corp.

Mark Peller, ULA's director of the hardware value stream, said earlier in August that those three engines should arrive in October. Between 2015 and 2017, ULA expects Energomash to ship eight RD-180 engines a year, Peller said.

As noted in both articles, ULA said in June it was open to looking at alternatives, but (again citing SpaceNews):
More recently, however, the company has emphasized that RD-180 engine deliveries are continuing unabated despite heightened tensions between Wasington and Moscow.

SkyMan1958
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posted 09-03-2014 09:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If the Russians want to get really tricky, it would seem a simple enough thing to do for the Russians to make an inherent flaw somewhere in all the tubing of the rocket engines. Make the tubing such that it would hold up during any test trials and yet fail during the prolonged burn of a full on launch. That way they get the US to pay yet more money to the Russian military/industrial complex AND destroy whatever satellite the US was planning to launch on the rocket.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-09-2014 08:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jim Oberg, writing for NBC News, raises the question of what NASA (i.e. the U.S.) will do if Roscosmos moves cosmonaut survival training back to the Crimea.
...the back-to-Crimea idea — announced by Yuri Lonchakov, a former cosmonaut who now heads the training center — is not based on budget considerations (which are still bad). Nor does it reflect any unique advantages of training on the Black Sea: Cosmonauts have also trained near Sochi, within Russia’s boundaries, and Lonchakov did not propose that site.

Here's the kicker: Shifting the survival training to Russian-occupied Crimea will require foreign cosmonauts to accept travel there without Ukrainian visas, an explicit acquiescence to the new diplomatic status of the province. Refusal to attend survival training is equivalent to failing the training, which by existing training regulations is an automatic disqualification for flight certification. No Crimea trip, no space trip.

The suggestion is that NASA will either need to accept Russia's accession of Crimea, or forfeit flying on the Soyuz by default. Another option exists though, for which there is some precedence.

Cosmonauts train in Crimea, international astronauts continue to use a lake outside Moscow that has been in use for the same training for the past 10 years.

It wouldn't be the first time they have split up training, even on the same crew, as has been done with spaceflight participants.

328KF
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posted 09-09-2014 09:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The article goes on to explain that:
Lonchakov hinted that Crimea might be used for more than sea survival training. "We are also planning, if it works out, to hold sea and mountain survival training," he told the Itar-Tass news agency. He has also said a post-flight rehabilitation center for cosmonauts could be reopened near Yevpatoria, a Crimean coastal resort."
So is there a precedence to split up crews for sea/mountain training and post-flight rehab too?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-09-2014 09:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
By a matter of course, NASA and international astronauts return to Houston for post-flight rehabilitation while the cosmonauts have returned to Star City. (Case in point, when Soyuz TMA-12M returns to Earth tomorrow night [Sept. 10], Skvortsov and Artemyev will return to Star City while Swanson is flown to Houston.)

As for mountain training, the point is that other locations exist, have been in use for the past 10 years, and as survival training has been divided before, could be again.

328KF
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posted 09-09-2014 10:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems pretty obvious that this training could be conducted virtually anywhere. There is clear calculation on Russia's part to try to put the U.S. in a tough spot, and as Oberg mentioned, there are implications for other countries and private individuals wishing to fly on Soyuz.

I also think that these types of training events play a major role in the team building that produces a good crew on orbit. If the Russians train in one country and the lone U.S. crewmember trains elsewhere, how will that impact the management of resources should a situation arise that requires its use?

It will be interesting to see what NASA's (and Washington's) response will be to this if it does come to pass.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-09-2014 10:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by 328KF:
There is clear calculation on Russia's part to try to put the U.S. in a tough spot...
Maybe, but we also don't know the context of Lonchakov's reply to ITAR-TASS.

Also, Russia has a tendency to float ideas in the media just to gauge the reaction (not to say the U.S. doesn't do this as well, but Russia has made it into an art form). Oberg was right to raise the question, but for a number of reasons I do not see this being a gamestopper.


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