The Ukraine crisis is causing Russia to ban the United States from using the International Space Station (ISS) in response to threats from President Obama over imposing sanctions.
In a related report by The Inquisitr, the recent SpaceX Dragon re-entry splashdown was caught on video after leaving the International Space Station. But if you are looking for something even more spectacular, I would suggest checking out NASA’s global selfie project or their Tron-inspired space suit.
In the past we reported on the threats by Russia:
“Russia deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin went to Twitter to announce that American sanctions imposed on Russia would “boomerang” back at the United States. They say they will be pulling out completely by 2020 and that Russian rocket engines normally shipped to the US would be in jeopardy. Rogozin also said that the Russian segment of the International Space Station ‘can exist independently of the American one, but the American segment cannot exist on its own without the Russian one.’ Although NASA says they have not been contacted by Russia about any changes, Rogozin claims the money that used to go to the ISS will instead be put into other unnamed Russian space projects.”
As of this writing, there still is not anything official, but Rogozin did joke about the situation, saying:
“I propose that the United States delivers its astronauts to the ISS with the help of a trampoline.”
NASA currently sends U.S. astronauts to the ISS on Russian Soyuz rockets at a cost of $70 million per flight per astronaut. This might sound expensive, but the average cost of each space shuttle flight hovered around $1 billion over the course of the entire program. But without Russia’s help, NASA has no one to turn to in the short term, although officially the U.S. has a contract with Russia that extends through 2016.
In addition, Russia is threatening to cut off the supply of RD-180 rocket engines that are used in Atlast V rockets by the U.S. military to launch satellites into space. We only have enough RD-180 stockpiles left to last another 22 months and a project to replace the RD-180 by the United Launch Alliance probably will not have anything usable until 2019.
The good news is that the SpaceX Dragon V2 spacecraft is being designed to shuttle up to seven astronauts up to the ISS and it’s hoped it can be put into use by 2017. This is actually quite an improvement over the Russian Soyuz capsules, which are limited to three astronauts per flight. The Dragon V2 even has a special escape pod mechanism that allows the capsule to detach from the main rocket in the event of an emergency.
To put this all in perspective, the original plan for the International Space Station was to have it de-orbited in 2020 but the White House allowed NASA to re-appropriate federal funds in order to keep the ISS in orbit for an extra four years. But if the Ukraine crisis leads to a long term Cold War 2 between the United States and Russia, it’s possible that the lifespan of the ISS may be curtailed and result in an earlier death by burning up in Earth’s atmosphere.