Retiring the Space Shuttle has long been on the drawing board, with the assumption that, for a little while, US astronauts would need to rely on Russian carriage to the Space Station.
Without US technology, particularly the Shuttle, the ISS could not have been built.
As critiqued by the likes of Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell, and Eugene Cernan, President Obama’s new space plan, which curtails planned booster development without specific alternatives, greatly increases and lengthens the time the US would be dependent on Vladimir Putin for passage on Soyuz rockets.
This means the Russians will have complete access to a very special facility, while we’ll have none (unless they grant it).
To some, this doesn’t matter, but to others, who see what Prime Minister Putin has done with Gazprom, the Russian state-owned fuel company, this new plan is causing some concern. With the health and well-being of several European nations at stake, holding an energy stranglehold on natural gas, Russia has shown itself all too willing to turn off the valve and let people freeze.
If Mr. Putin has a history of doing this with a critical natural resource affecting millions, why wouldn’t he be so inclined with the few seats available on his rockets?