Saturday, April 26, 2014

Please don't take it out on the ISS crews

        This blog urges Presidents Obama and Putin to exercise restraint as the crisis in Ukraine escalates. As the US turns the sanction screws on Russia, it's going to get very tempting for the Russians to retaliate by restricting NASA access to the ISS.

        Worse than that, two NASA astronauts are currently in orbit as part of Expedition 39. Richard Mastracchio is due to re-enter next month, so he's probably ok. But Steven Swanson only launched in March, will transfer to Expedition 40 and is seriously in danger of getting no ride home if the US and Russia really decide to have a pissing match.

        I personally think Ukraine will probably split into two nations, but SFW? Cool it, you guys!

NOTE: Other members of Expedition 39 are Japanese Commander Koichi Wakata and Russian engineers Mikhail Tyurin, Aleksandr Skvortsov, and Oleg Artemyev.

        Other people are now noticing this potential problem. Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s deputy prime minister, made a very wry joke in a Russian-language tweet yesterday:

"After analyzing the sanctions against our space industry, I suggest to the USA to bring their astronauts to the International Space Station using a trampoline.” 

More detail on that

        On Coast-to-Coast AM last night, Bob Zimmerman also warned that Swanson could get stranded, but he said it's literally impossible for the Russians to operate ISS without NASA (I didn't know that). He even hinted at the dire outcome that ISS would have to be abandoned.

        My next question is "If Commander Wakata is ordered to prevent Swanson from boarding a Soyuz spacecraft for de-orbiting, would he obey?"

Update 14 May
According to this article in the Daily Telegraph, Russia will refuse to carry US astronauts to ISS after 2020.

Here's the full transcript  of yesterday's announcement. It supports the Telegraph's story to the extent that it's clear the Russians will consider ISS a dead duck at the end of 2020. It's not just that they'll refuse to carry Americans -- they won't be launching Russians, either.


Anonymous said...

Yes. Please do not take it out on something like this. It would be just as moronic as when Jimmy Carter boycotted the olympics.

Anonymous said...

By all means let's permit the march of fascism and the splitting of a country that will, in all likelihood, result in civil war. As with Nazi Germany, the world's cowardice, weakness, apathy and tepid excuses will lead like night into day to a Third World War, or worse. The potentiality for genocide be damned, at least the ISS will be fully staffed. Jerry.

expat said...

Thanks for your comment. Do you think that ratcheting up the anti-Russian sanctions is a path to peace, then?

Anonymous said...

I believe peace can only be achieved through strength. Putin is a man who would be czar with aspirations for re-unifying the Soviet Union, which cannot be allowed. His unanswered subjugation of a peaceful country in the heart of Europe does not bode well for Belarus and Poland, amongst others. Crimea fell with a whisper. Neville Chamberlain sought a diplomatic path to peace with resultant chaos. A fascist's signatory promise means nothing. If Putin wanted peace, the Crimean annexation would never had happened. Sanctions have limited effect on an oligarchy. If NATO does not intervene militarily if necessary, then NATO has no meaning. And lest the world pin it's hopes on the U.N., remember that that august body recently named Iran to lead the women's rights commission. Like the League of Nations that preceded it, and a timid, impotent NATO, these entities will rightfully be swept into the dustbin of history. Jerry.

Dee said...

Jerry, NATO has little significance in this conflict as they protect their own members. Better options are to support free elections and firm agreements on how much autonomy the various regions will get. History will show you that these regions in dispute always tried tried to keep distance from Kiev while remaining close to Russia. As far as I understand the conflict, they just demand the freedom to retain that position. Putin capitalizes on it but that's real politics for you. The area is too important for Russia.

I support expat's suggestion for a break-up but it's not even needed. Just increase the already present autonomy like so many countries around them have already done with their various regions. Or a federal systems. They really work well there.

Anonymous said...

Respectfully, the last 'free' election/ referendum Putin presided over was the post-annexation of Crimea referendum of support. That occurred with >100,000 Russian troops on the border. Putin's invasions, either direct or 'political' are simply staging grounds for the subjugation of Eastern Europe and certainly the province of NATO. If Putin incurs on Belarus, as I suspect he will, will that alter your thinking about this? Belarus was the chosen path of both Hitler and Napoleon linking Moscow and Poland. Minimally,NATO should begin amassing troops and weaponry on the Polish border. If Putin takes Belarus then the defense of Poland becomes much more difficult. Jerry.

Dee said...

Jerry, I was talking specifically about free and monitored elections. The referendum in Crimea was hasty and dubious although nobody doubts it reflected the mood correctly. But parts of Crimea had already special status and 20,000 Russian troops were already stationed formally, even sharing navy facilities. Personally I don't think Putin has any use for further invasions. He needs to maintain access to the harbours and the defence industry of East Ukraine. It seems all defensive posturing to me, in line with Russian historical notions especially pre-Soviet. But anyway, this is a space blog and I'm going to leave it at that. Space science like so much else in science is an important place to cooperate internationally and gain mutual respect and friendly dependencies. That's a major significance of the ISS! United this particular form of technology can blossom further but divided it will be snowed under.

Anonymous said...

The US would *love* this to happen so it could play the good-guy victim to "evil russia" and have the excuse it wants to play world police for anything it doesn't like and start more wars to keep the money flowing to the growing military powers.

expat said...


Anonymous said...

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
Thomas Jefferson