As an avid NASA TV fan, I was shocked to hear the sour grapes emanating from the Russian Space Agency.
If you haven't been following any of this (which you probably haven't), NASA is mothballing the Space Shuttle program. No more shuttle flights. So until our next rocket program Aries and Orion are ready, all of our manned space flights will be done in cooperation with Russia. The new catch? Russia has charged us up to $20+ million per passenger to be on their Soyez flights... the price tag now is $51 million.
Any chance at haggling the price? No! Any chance of threatening to pull back scheduled flights as a show of revolt? No!
Russia is Russia! They are not symbolized by that cute Chekov character from the space Coke ad "I Wanna Teach The World To Sing" commune future called Star Trek. They are more like Romulans. Or Klingons. Or WTF! The villains they always were. Why?
You thought space was a large vast place for shared achievements and friendship? Watch 2010 (that B version sequel of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey) again!
Russia has stated that if they do not get their way ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$) within a few years they will detach their modules from the International Space Station and fly in their own orbit. (Probably refitted with a few nukes for good measure!)
Sour grapes... Global economy woes... Or a real threat? Whose to know? But they stated that they have this plan and are sticking to it! And until they get their demands (Space Pirates?), they will follow through with detaching their ISS modules as early as 2012.
So much for peace. So much for Star Trek cooperation. Ah! The future of space diplomacy... It's just as stupid up in space as it is down here!
I believe Prez W's demand to put the shuttle into mothballs was premature, especially since it came in statements he made while they were still finding shuttle wreckage spread all across his home state. But the scenario was deeper.
We are focused on Moon colonization (better stated - long term stays on the Moon) and future Mars Exploration. We don't need a shuttle for either mission because it wouldn't get us there in either case. Money has to be allocated to these projects. The ESA and the Russian Space Agency can be our bus drivers while we forge ahead with our OWN agendas.
Booos Drrrriverrrr? NYETT!
The Space elevator is still in progress with its carbonite composite/stronger than steel, 2000 mile wrapped cords. By not having a functioning shuttle program, this dream better become a reality soon. If it theoretically can work or creates my own worst case scenario projection... it hypothetically slows down the spin of the Earth.
It's all about the Benjamins. Russia is hungry... must feed bear! North Korea is hungry... must feed little puppet boy.
If Russia pulls out of International Space Station, The US will replace it with... AIG or Chrysler or some bail out.
Now back to the moon so Paulie Shore can make a cameo appearance in BioDome 2: The Waste of Space