Youthful, Space-Faring Nation Lends Hand to Tired Superpower

By March 24, 2010Innovation, Technology

Provocative story in today’s Washington Post, the 6-page Russia Now ad supplement, “Russia makes space for U.S.” The small, sub-deck headline reads, “While Russia burns with ambition again, the United States has grown ambivalent about space exploration.”

The piece reports that NASA has signed a $306 million contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency for U.S. astronauts to fly to the International Space Station in 2012. In addition, “[The] Russian government has increased spending on the space industry by a remarkable 40 percent for each of the past five years, spending $2.8 billion in 2009.”

Not sure whether it’s smart positioning, wishful thinking or just accurate reporting by the Russians, but the impression left is that of a marketing pitch pegged to the theme, “Worn-out superpower can’t afford its own space program, has to turn to Russia.”

The Russians take legitimate pride in their history-making (Soviet) space program. Are they really going to lead the 21st Century’s ventures into space? (One NAM colleague laughs at the notion, remembering the decayed equipment of 1990s Moscow.)

Coincidentally, no doubt, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies held a hearing Tuesday on NASA’s budget request, $19 billion for FY2011:

Hearing- NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) FY2011 Budget Overview
2:00 PM, 2359, RHOB
– Chairman Mollohan(Statement)
– Major General (Ret.) Charles F. Bolden, Jr., Administrator, NASA

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