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Sunday, January 08, 2006

NASA contract with Russians to use Soyuz not a good sign

CNN is reporting that NASA has signed a deal with the Russian government to use its Soyuz spacecraft to bring relief crewmembers and cargo to the International Space Station. It'll cost $21.8 million to send a single passenger one-way to or from the ISS.

I know our own Space Shuttle program is grounded for the time being and that something needs to be done in order to transport personnel and equipment to the station, but this isn't a very good indicator of the current status for either NASA or the United States. There's been remarkably little innovation in the way of manned space flight to come out of this country in the past two decades: the proposed Crew Exploration Vehicle isn't even a clearly defined concept at this point, now a few years before the Space Shuttle is due to be retired. So in a situation strikingly parallel with how the Romans eventually came to rely on foreign mercenaries, we are having to hire other countries and the technology that has traditionally been regarded as inferior to our own in order to keep up our end of things. I'm not "dissing" the Soyuz spacecraft - it has a pretty good history of being a reliable workhorse - but this is a vehicle that's forty years old that we are now putting the brunt of our space effort onto.

Guess what I'm trying to figure out is: Where has our technological creativity gone to?