In war, a ceasefire is usually a good sign. Usually, it means two sides have come to an agreement. However, when that ceasefire is a cease in the firing of rockets to the International Space Station due to a Russian refusal to sell rockets to the United States, “usual” is thrown out the window. Russia is engaging in a Kasparov-Fisher esque match over the Ukraine in space. Because the United States needs Russia to access the space station, if Russia were to halt sales of rockets to NASA, the space program would suffer. While some view the Russian refusal a window for the United Sates to bring space funding dollars back to domestic soil, it is still important to maintain strong relations with Russia.
With a budget boost, Russia is leaving us in the dust, Earth’s dust. Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin suggested the reduction in Russian I.S.S. efforts. In other words, Russia will leave the I.S.S., but it will stay in space. Russia will be working with China in a bilateral space program. The future of the programs is unclear, but it likely will prioritize economics over research. Some people still say that this gives the United States the opportunity to bring more jobs to its own soil. And, with a 17.9 billion dollar increase in funding, science research programs will receive a big boost.
Though it’s important to have strong research centers in the U.S. and space development programs in Russia, the bigger problem at hand needs to be approached. Russia isn’t leaving the I.S.S. because it doesn’t want to develop space. The Deputy Prime minister asserted, “It is really alarming to us to continue developing major high-technology projects with such an unreliable partner as the U.S., which is politicizing everything.” Russia is leaving the I.S.S. because of U.S. sanctions. Obviously, the sanctions aren’t working. People in Ukraine demand more sanctions, but Russia is still occupying Ukraine. Some U.S. companies are suffering at the hands of the sanctions, so we ought to be asking, “should these problems be handled differently?”
As with the Cold War, space was a place for nationalistic competition. We arguably landed on the moon, but satellite launches, chess, and the Olympics were all competitions that were substitutes for armed conflict. Personally, I’d rather see a Pawn to C4 than a nuclear war between Russia and the United States. So if that means we might have to halt our sanctions on Russia, it’s probably better.
It might be the wrong type of cease-fire, but a halt in space-research rockets is always better than a start of nuclear rockets.
[Image Attribute: NASA]