JOINT RUSSO-AMERICAN SPACE PROJECTS ARE BECOMING MORE DETAILEDAugust 3, 2016
Recall that yesterday I blogged about an article that was sent to me by Mr. T.M., and about my hypothesis that with nationalist trends on the rise globally, that Mr. Global might be signaling shifts in the strategy, from a bottom-up Earth-based approach, to a top-down space-based approach. Well, with that in mind, consider this article, also shared by Mr. T.M.:
In the light of my hypothesis, consider the following statements :
Both American and Russian organizations are considering ways to return to space together, as long as the political relationship between the two nations doesn't deteriorate. The countries had been preparing to part ways after the ISS ceases operation in 2024.
NASA is developing its Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a super-heavy rocket to be used for manned missions into space, possibly as far as Mars. NASA is also giving funds to companies like SpaceX to make excursions into orbit with reusable rockets.
A few years ago, the European Space Agency, (ESA) joined with NASA in a maintenance agreement to service the Orion propulsion module. But Russia, the second largest contributor to ISS, hasn't made any commitments beyond the time when its current obligations to the station are complete.
Russia's recent economic issues are said to have somewhat stymied the nation's space ventures, but the largest obstacle to space cooperation may be Moscow and Washington's current contentious relationship. Engineers at Roskomos (the Russian space agency) and NASA are working together, while traversing the problematic political terrain of their respective governments.
Russian space contractors, such as RKK Energia and GKNPTs Khrunichev, along with American companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing, are developing several tentative missions in which both nations cohabitate in cislunar space near the Moon. Such missions may lay the groundwork for mining missions to asteroids.
Russian technologists are known to be deft at operating and developing space modules designed to sustain propulsion, as well as creating house crews, exactly the expertise the US needs. That sort of module would increase the Orion crew's living capacity beyond the small one-room compartments currently in use.
When consulting with their American counterparts, the Russians showcased hardware that will soon be available for building deep-space living quarters. For instance, ISS's small docking compartment, built by RKK Energia, could be adapted as a 10-ton addition to the habitat, and would include cargo space, sleeping quarters and a discrete life-support system. (Emphasis added)
But now I want you to perform a thought experiment: take that line in the first paragraph that I have italicized, and change it to this: "Both American and Russian organizations are considering ways to return to space together, because the political relationship between the two nations continues to deteriorate." With that change in mind, read the remainder of the quotation above, and you get the idea: major global corporations like Lockheed Martin and Boeing are teaming up with their Russian counterparts Energia to design a permanent space station in orbit between the Earth and the moon as a large-scale permanent human presence and as a steppingstone to permanent human colonies on that planet.
This is, indeed, a reminder of the policy of the Kennedy administration, when JFK in the last year of his life, proposed a joint Soviet-American mission to the Moon, not in spite of, but because of, the tensions on Earth between the two blocs. But there's something different here, and that is that this cooperation appears to be driven more by corporations, than governments. Granted, the Russian corporations are state-owned but they are corporations-cum-government agencies nonetheless. And this corporation-as-state-actor is very much in line with Mr. Global's standard dogma and modus operandi.
Geopolitically, and even from the point of view of the soft power culture card, this makes sense: it would be much easier to impose global order on troubled regions from the high ground of space, than to do so from the one-dimensional operational theater of the Earth itself.
One wonders, however, what Mr. Global's reaction will be when the Patriarch of Moscow wants to visit to bless the first Orthodox church there...
See you on the flip side...