First of all, I'd like to thank G.C. for spotting this story and passing it along, because I think it's probably much more significant than meets the eye. The gist of the story? Russia will give up its participation in the international space station after 2024:
Russia to quit International Space Station after 2024 Moscow has plans to begin building its own space facility, Roscosmos chief says
There's a couple of interesting clues in the article that make it ripe for our usual daily high octane speculation. The first clue is this:
Russia will withdraw from the International Space Station (ISS) project with the West after 2024, the new head of the country’s space agency Roscosmos, Yury Borisov, said on Tuesday.
Moscow intends to fulfill all its obligations to foreign partners as part of the ISS project, but “the decision to withdraw from this station after 2024 has been made,” Borisov told President Vladimir Putin during a meeting at the Kremlin. (Boldface emphasis added)
You might recall that the former head of Roscosmos, Dmitri Rogozin (whom we'll encounter again in a moment), recently retired (or was retired) from his post, a move that some interpreted as signaling a coming change in Russia's space policy. The question of why Russia would announce its withdrawal now raises questions, but the most obvious answer is that it has something to do with its war in the Ukraine, and with the "West's" response to it.
The second clue is this:
The previous head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, had predicted that the ISS, which NASA plans to operate until 2030, would “fall apart” by that time unless “huge amounts of money” are invested in its repair.
But efforts to keep the station in orbit are no longer effective for Russia due to the current geopolitical environment, he pointed out.
There you have it: in the second clue, the former chief of Roscosmos openly admits the policy change is due to the "current geopolitical environment", i.e., the Ukraine and the west's response. But I suspect that this "reason" is really a convenient excuse for something deeper, something hinted at by Rogozin's comment that the ISS is falling apart, and to maintain its normal function would require massive amounts of money.
I suspect that what Mr. Rogozin really meant was "Why should we spend lots of money to maintain the space pretentions of the U.S.A.?" This is the same Rogozin, after all, who after the USA had imposed "sanctions" on Russia for its Ukrainian invasion, said that America could ride its broomsticks into space.
And, effectively, he's right. America's space program is moribund. It's all talk, committees, meetings, and little to no action. We've watched NASA make bold plans and proclamations about going "back to the Moon and on to Mars" since the (mis)administration of King George "Poppy" Bush the First, through the years of the Clintonista junta, and on into the reigns of Bush the Stupid and O'Bummer until Mr. Trump gave us "another space force" and General Milley went woke and started lecturing military cadets about fighting little green men (I blogged about that too). During that time, Japan, India, and China have all sent robotic probes to the Moon and beyond. China accomplished the feat of sending a probe to the far side of the Moon, India also accomplished the feat of more then 20 satellite launches in a week, Japan landed a probe on an asteroid, and the European Space Agency took some very interesting (and mightily peculiar) pictures of a bunch of asteroids and of the Martian Moon Phobos. During that time, the United States suffered the space shuttle disasters, retired its shuttle, and replaced it with... nothing. Zip, nadda, zilch, nothing. We've had some successful probes, but nothing capturing the imagination like, say, the Chinese landing a probe on the far side of the Moon.
Nothing but blueprints and artists' reditions of big Dixie cups on rockets to scoop up asteroids and mine them (I kid you not) on the Moon (which apparently we can't get back to) and dreams and some mock-ups of the next lunar capsules, and with hopes invested in Richard Branson and Elon Musk and "the private sector".
When it gets right down to it, it would appear that America is a "paper space power," long on chatter and short on the nuts and bolts. We're effectively still playing around with caravels and galleys while the rest have moved on to frigates and ships-of-the-line.
In short, we're falling way behind in the public face of space, and that might be an indicator that we're falling behind in the more secretive aspects as well. After all, when corruption reaches the point it has in the USSA, with a grifter in the White House due to massive election fraud, and who owes much of his personal wealth to deals made with the Communist Chinese and Ukrainians, and who thus could be viewed as a national security risk if not threat, then those dollars no longer buy very much. They would appear not even to buy loyalty any more. And that means that they're probably not buying effective space and military weapons systems either. They're buying blueprints, and artists' renditions, and meetings and press conferences outlining the latest "goals and objectives," and endless meetings with bureaucrats, who are planning the next press conference and meetings...
Pretty soon they'll name a dance after it, and call it the NASA shuffle...
See you on the flip side...