So many people sent me this one that it would be impossible to thank you all by your initials, but I want to extend my thanks because this is a story that raises all sorts of difficult questions. Indeed, almost all of you who sent me this story included some sort of comment about those questions, and for anyone following the story of Russian-American relations lately, one would have to be almost wilfully blind or ignorant not to see them. Here's the story, as reported by RT:
Note that Roscosmos head, Igor Komarov, gave a press conference at the center of the Russian space program, the Baikonur Cosmodrome, and stated that not only would the USA and Russia be cooperating on the construction of a new space station when the current one is retired, but even more importantly, that:
"The two agencies will be unifying their standards and systems of manned space programs, according to Komarov. “This is very important to future missions and stations.”
(Emphasis in the original).
NASA head James Bolden, according to the article, not only corroborated this news, but indicated that the area of cooperation and adopting a uniform standard protocols of missions had specific things in mind:
"Roscosmos and NASA are working with each other and other partners on a global roadmap of space exploration, Bolden said. “Our area of cooperation will be Mars. We are discussing how best to use the resources, the finance, we are setting time frames and distributing efforts in order to avoid duplication.”
(Emphasis in the original)
Additionally, the article goes on to note that Bolden indicated the expansion of the private exploration - read commercialization - of space is also on the long-term NASA agenda.
So what are we possibly looking at here, in terms of the High Octane Speculation of the day?
For one thing, the timing of the announcement is peculiar, given the backdrop of recent clashes of geopolitical interests between the USA and Russia over the situation in the Ukraine. Indeed, for many commentators, the clash is set to lead to an inevitable military confrontation between the two countries, and if one listens to the hysteria coming from some American and European commentators, even to a possible nuclear war. Against this backdrop, and the backdrop of ongoing western sanctions against Russia, the head of Roskosmos and NASA announce major plans for long term cooperation in space. Raising the question of why tensions - so bad here on Earth - appear not to be jeopardizing things in space. It is this very point that raises the possibility that there are hidden agendas going on behind the scenes, dealing with space. Indeed, this "cooperation in spite of near hot war conditions of on-Earth rivalry between the two countries, that raises the old Alternative Three scenario once again.
For those who don't know the story or who may have never seen the Alternative Three "documentary," this was a program on British televsion in the 1970s, conceived as an April Fool's joke, on the ITC television network's East Anglia TV show, "Science Report." The premise was that the intrepid journalists of "Science Report," anxious to explore the very real "brain drain" that was occuring in the United Kingdom throughout the 1970s, ran into a very different, and much more wild scenario. The "documentary" quickly uncovered indications that scientists were either volunteering or being abducted and coerced to participate in a secret space program which quite literally was being conducted on the planet Mars, in an effort to colonize the planet. At one point in the show, however, East Anglia TV interviews a "professor" of international relations, who offers the offhand observation that students of Soviet-American relations had often suspected that there was an element of secret space cooperation between the two superpowers behind and above the normal day-to-day tensions and squabbles.
It is this element that appears to be operative once again, though, unlike in the Alternative Three scenario, the element is very visible and public, suggesting an even more coordinated secret cooperation. After all, if the public element is now that of "unifying their standards and systems of manned space programs," this implies a high and broad and deep level of detailed coordination of engineering, protocols, and so on. The coordination indicates that regardless of very real tensions on Earth, the two countries are cooperating to an extraordinary degree in space, and the article even suggests, by its inclusion of NASA's "space privatization efforts," that Russia is on board with this agenda as well.
I suspect - and here's the high octane speculation part of it - that both countries have long known, and long withheld, sensitive information on what they've found "out there," and that the best way to keep the lid on it, at least for the moment, is an expansion of their public cooperation, and the privatization of space.
See you on the flip side...