Monday, March 03, 2008

Senate Uneasy About NASA Outsourcing To Russians Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
With the space shuttle retirement on the horizon, NASA has shifted its focus on not only returning to the Moon, but also on delegating transportation to and from the International Space Station (or ISS) to the Russians.

Unfortunately it seems that many Senators are not as comfortable with working with their former foe, especially with tensions heating up between the US and the former Soviet Union.

(Government Executive) Senate Commerce Space Subcommittee Chairman Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., trained their sights on what they portrayed as a high-risk reliance on a partner whose ambitions might run counter to U.S. foreign policy goals. [...]

In the meantime, Nelson said, "there is a realistic political monkey wrench" that could complicate any deal. He said current law forbids any U.S. contract payments to Russia if it continues to support the Iranian nuclear development program, unless the White House requests a waiver and Congress grants it.

Even though NASA is confident in its relationship with the Russians, they need to develop a "plan B" just in case America chooses not to issue future waivers (which would hurt NASA, or at least cripple the ISS).

While NASA has made serious attempts at courting the private sector (especially SpaceX), they may need to take more aggressive measures if they want to convince congress of their future relevance.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

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~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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