Another reminder of how far the US has fallen in world standing was shoved in our faces yesterday. While most of the media sites were too absorbed in the opinions on race relations of an 81-year old man who somehow manages to appear in public with his wife one night and his girlfriend the next, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Rogozin told us that our manned space program is effectively grounded.
"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,"
Rogozin is one of the targets of sanctions approved by the Obama Administration and the European Union in the wake of Russian aggression in Ukraine. However, due to the termination of the Space Shuttle program--and cuts to NASA's budget for the Orion spacecraft program during the Obama Administration--the US (and really the entire world) is completely reliant upon Russia to get anyone to the International Space Station. And when you are completely reliant on someone for something--you find yourself in a lot of situations where you need to kiss a lot of butts--even if they are attached to tyrants.
How did this happen? How did we go from first to the moon, first to have a re-usable spacecraft and plans to be first on Mars to having the Russians mocking us for not being able to get anyone into space--much less exploring new frontiers? It sort of reminds me of the first dark days of the manned space program--1975 to 1981--when NASA didn't send any Americans went into space--after 20-years of historic success.
There are times when I have to double check the calendar to make sure we aren't back in 1978. For those of you "groovy" enough to remember, there was high, long-term unemployment, brutally cold winters, high gas prices, everyone was driving ugly little cars, nobody was "making" anything in the US and the powers that be in Washington were completely clueless as to how to get the country out of its "malaise".
Now we all know what eventually turned around that situation--so I guess we just have to wait two more years to make that happen--but in the meantime, we just have to hope that crappy dance music and polyester clothes don't come back into style--and that militant Islamists don't take a bunch of Americans hostage during this nostalgia piece.