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back to article McCain: Keep Shuttle flying, don't trust Russia

Presidential contender John McCain and two other bigshot Republican senators have written to George Bush urging that NASA keep the Space Shuttle fleet alive beyond 2010. The politicians are concerned about US reliance on Russia for manned space transport in the early years of the next decade. According to the Orlando Sentinel, …

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tim

Christ - don't let this become an election issue...

really - the space program is so unimportant - there are a dozen more pressing issues this election should be focused on first...

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RE: budget concerns

Stop the war in Iraq, funnel money from military spending and don't worry too much about Russia but old habits die hard from 40 years ago. Embrace Russia, not fear her otherwise we go back down that familiar road.

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Anonymous Coward

Sense on the one hand. On the other, nonsense.

If the only manned missions are to the ISS it makes no sense to worry about Russkie lift dependency, since the operations are joint to the fullest degree possible in any case. Would you have Shuttle go up and evict the Russian scientists and astronauts? Any mechanism for resolving conflicts about resource, scheduling and participation will either be able to maintain things along current lines, or degenerate to the point of the ISS needing to be abandoned anyway.

I suppose there's a vague prospect of the Russians at some point saying "We're the only ones with live-cargo-rated lift capacity, so we now own the ISS. No one else is getting up there. We kept Mir running, so we can keep the ISS up there." At which point, the rest of the world has the option of stopping funding the ISS until such time as they have human-safe lift capacity, hence saving a large chunk of change for other purposes.

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Tim

A sound opening

Looks like McCain is kicking off his campaign at long last. This looks a sound first move indeed, appealing to US patriotism, acting on jobs, and being very timely in view of the Georgia situation.

Tim#3

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Just dump the ISS....

The ISS is a now great white elephant in the sky - and a VERY expensive one at that.

We should dump it in the sea and spend the money on something useful - eg. robotic space explorers and on figuring out if the moon can be mined for He3 to solve the energy crisis

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Anonymous Coward

McCain is right on this IMHO

Russia annexed large parts of Georgia and called it 'supporting independence'. Supporting in the sense that those parts now belong to Russia, and Russia controls the mountain roads now.

They promised to withdraw, then they announce the withdrawal, then they said they'd completed the withdrawal. However reclassifying soldiers as 'peacekeepers' does not mean you withdrew the soldiers. And annexing two provinces of Georgia, does not mean the soldiers have returned to Russia, they haven't moved, the border of Russia has moved to surround them.

They still have their army right across Georgia.

So he's right, they cannot be trusted, BP is getting shafted after investing in Russia, bet they wish they hadn't put money into that business:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7443380.stm

Gazprom of course, got hit with a tax demand, including 110% of revenue for one year alone.

It's not difficult to understand their motivation. They cannot supply the oil and gas they are selling. The gas deal they did with Germany coincided with a gas deal they did to buy middle Asian gas. A lot of their revival depends on them being an oil and gas giant, but for a lot of the gas they sell they are just a middleman.

That's why the pipeline that crosses Georgia is so important to them, because it's a way for the central asian states to sell their gas without Russia.

So IMHO, McCain is 100% right here. What would you do when Putin grabs middle asian states and the price of gas and oil quadruples? If Bush had been smarter in picking and choosing his fights, this is the fight to have, control of Georgia.

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Anonymous Coward

With McCain on this one

The Russians went and elected a couple of dinosaurs (assuming they were elected in the free and fair sense) with territorial ambitions. It would be best to keep them at arms length and avoid depending on them for anything.

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IT Angle

Re: McCain is right on this IMHO

I don't really want to stray too far from Space (and IT) into politics, but all of the arguments against Russia invading Georgia could be applied to Kosovo. As always, it's a case of "do as I say, not as I do".

And Russia certainly has the requisite oil and gas - AND controls the pipelines from Central Asia, apart from the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Russia has the ability to maintain the gas flow for years to come.

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Don't let Russia annexe the ISS

It's only a matter of time before Russian tanks invade the Space Station. US must build it's own fleet of Space Tanks now!

Or, perhaps accept that the 'I' in ISS is for International?

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Pirate

Trust in Government

Are you all fools? You can't really trust any government. Some are better than others but Russia, US, UK, France, and Spain have very long colorful histories of lying, cheating, and stealing to get what they want. Just ask our American Indians - they're still waiting on their blankets.

You can't trust that the Russians won't try to "steal" the ISS, you can't trust that we (US) won't militarize space to "prevent the theft", and you can be damn sure you can't trust anyone to be the least bit honest about any of it.

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Re: With McCain on this one

> It would be best to keep them at arms length and avoid depending on them for anything.

Keep your friends close and keep your enemies closer.

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@ McCain is right?

Failing to see the difference between Georgia and certain other states that other countries have taken steps against.

"Hello Mr Hussain. You have been a bad boy making all those nasty big weapons that you are going to use against our citizens one day. We need to take them off you.... Hmmm.... where are they? You mean you don't have any after all? Hang on.... what's that black stuff over there? Oil you say? I did not know you had any of that. Tell you what, we have some very nice people who can help manage that for you, and repair the buildings that we had to knock down when we were looking for those nasty weapons. All for a reasonable fee of course..."

There may be other motives behind the Russian move not just the protection of Russian citizens, but IMHO the rhetoric coming from politicians (worldwide - not just the US) is either bandwagon jumping or, worse still, another stage in the escalation. The IIS cooperation seems to be working. Cooperation is the way forward in so many aspects of our world we shouldn't destroy it for a few moments of political gain.

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Michoud

Any layoffs at Michoud would be temporary since it needed to build the upper stage of the Ares I rocket and the core of the Ares V booster - which is built around a new version of the Shuttle's external tank. The jogs and assembly lines would most likely be mothballed until the prototype Vs start rolling. So there's no reason why the plant couldn't be kept going if the Shuttle had to be used for a little longer.

The most pressing problem for the Shuttle fleet is that Atlantis' various pressure vessels used to store nitrogen and helium are life-expired and cannot be replaced within the current lifetime of the ships. NASA originally intended to cannibalise Atlantis to keep Discovery and Endeavour flying, but I see they've recently decided to keep Atlantis going for as long as possible. Any major failure with Atlantis that meant it couldn't be retained in service would cause huge hassle for the US.

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Re: dump the ISS

JOhn-you're a short sighted man. Only an idiot would say something like that who does not understand the issues of robotics at its current stage of development. Only humans can properly explore space, the moon, and beyond and if we "Chicken Out" based on your design, we lose everything that humans have envisioned for the last 75 years.

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RE: McCain is right on this IMHO

"If Bush had been smarter in picking and choosing his fights, this is the fight to have, control of Georgia."

So, you want a shooting war with Russia?

Assuming for a second that it will not turn nuclear and supposing you will obtain "control" of Georgia, for how long do you think you will be able to retain such control before you run out of money and run? Five years, ten, twenty? How will that achieve anything?

Russia and Georgia had close ties for centuries. How naive or arrogant one should be if he thinks he can use a momentary loss of temper between two neighbouring nations to achieve a long-term shift in political alliance in favour of a country entire continent and an ocean away?

A delusion has swept the West, again, and you are, unfortunately, exemplifying it's typical victim.

As far as the importance of Georgia for the oil market - it was clearly demonstrated by the latter's reaction to the conflict - or by the absolute lack of any reaction. A dozen Westerners kidnapped from a Nigerian oil platform usually cause much greater impact on the oil price than BP's precautionary pipeline shutdown in Georgia.

P.S. And please, don't try to analyse BP's situation in Russia based on BBC reports - the reality is really much different.

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RE: With McCain on this one

"The Russians went and elected a couple of dinosaurs (assuming they were elected in the free and fair sense) with territorial ambitions. It would be best to keep them at arms length and avoid depending on them for anything."

That's right! And look at the Americans, they could not even elect 2 dinosaurs, so they elected one two times in a row. So, no dealing with the Americans either.

Oh, and look here - the British did not even elect our dinosaur here, he was promoted from an amphibian...

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Hmmmm

McCain: "Keep the shuttle flying!"

NASA: "Give us the money then!"

McCain: "I was a POW! I didn't have money when I was a POW!"

NASA: "...ummm..."

From George Dubya to PO Dubya.

(Note to anyone who may launch into that - I have full respect and admiration for the servicemen and women who lay their lives on the line - what I don't expect is for them to hide behind their experience every time someone asks them a tricky question - eg, Leno: "For a million dollars, how many houses?" - McCain: "I was a POW!")

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Unhappy

That's right...

lets all poke the 'Bear' with pointy sticks!

It's all well and good for you 'merkins to take a cold war stance, but for us poor fuckers in Europe, the return of a 'Cold War' will result in it being literally very cold, when the Russians shut down the gas supplies.

Sure, there are faults on all sides.

But IMHO, the last thing the world needs is another four years of Republicanism in the US. Unfortunately, I think it's what we're going to get, as there ain't enough White 'merkins ready to put a Black guy in the White House.

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@Chris Thorpe

""I" in ISS is for International?"

Don't be silly. The Yanks think that the entire planet, its resources and everything that surrounds it is theirs. The rest of us are just using it without their permission, and as such can be invaded, bombed, shot, kidnapped, bullied or threatened at will.

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Alien

"Any more than "one or two" extra shuttle missions"

In the space of the four years in the run up to the launch of the next generation of space vehicles would be a bloody miracle given their current record at getting them up.

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What to do

What we're really talking about here is NASA delaying some science experiments a few years. This is important to me and many others, but is there several billion dollars worth of _urgency_ here?

The alternative to spending several billion dollars is to let the Georgia thing slide and get friendly with Russia.

The Bush administration only ever gives bullshit reasons for doing anything. I have no idea why they're upset about Georgia. But they clearly are, and probably see it as a bigger concern than delaying a salmonella-in-space experiment a few years.

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@Rodrigo Andrade

You hit the nail on the head there

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Flame

I thought Bush wanted to go to Mars? What happened?

"So IMHO, McCain is 100% right here. What would you do when Putin grabs middle asian states and the price of gas and oil quadruples? If Bush had been smarter in picking and choosing his fights, this is the fight to have, control of Georgia."

Oh yeah, rich idea.

No standing. No money. No army. And dumb kids in the State Department. "Situation excellent, I shall attack." (as Foch once said)

I guess I have finally lived long enough to see random retards (which includes most of the Mainstream Media) bloviating about going up against Russia when they have no idea of what living with Mutual Assured Destruction was like.

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Alien

What about the 60's equipment

Took men to the moon so just a jaunt around the planet should be a doddle. In fact, why not reuse the equipment and sent astronauts to the moon today? If it survived the radiation,cold,alien probes then it should survive them today and lay to rest the falacy of US of A actually landing anyone on the moon.

Go on NASA, I dare you, use the original equipment with live HUMAN astronauts.

Alternatively why don't NASA use the spaceships in lockup in Area 51. Surely the ISS had intergalatic standard doors fitted so anything can dock with it ?

It's all a conspiracy I tell you.

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Unhappy

Safety concerns?

Perhaps this was already mentioned (I just skimmed through all the polemics so I could've missed it) but aren't the shuttles getting retired, in part, because they are getting old? Are politicians really qualified to make decisions on this (doubtful since they're really not qualified to make decisions on anything useful)... I can see why McCain would want Bush to take care of this... if tragedy strikes later, he'll be a handy (and retired) scapegoat.

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Dead Vulture

Senator McCain - the pilot

I'm surprised he hasn't tried to leverage his experience as a naval pilot on this one, given the armed forceshave supplied the pilots for the shuttle programme....

Then again he did finish 4th bottom of his class, managed to get into naval aviation due to his fathers position as an admiral, binned 4(!) aircraft in his career and was still flight rated....

Anon, I might want to go to the US one day and no doubt this will get me on a list

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Stop

That's no man....

"At a minimum, we request that you direct NASA to take no action for at least one year from now that would preclude the extended use of the space shuttle beyond 2010," the three men stated.

Ahem... http://www.senate.gov/~hutchison/

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Happy

McCain is right on this IMHO - by AC

Yeah i remember a similar planned which went under the header of "bringing peace and democracy to the middle east" which involved invasion and annexing...except we did this in a region that has NOTHING to do with us other than oil...

So while standing on Iraqi invaded soil we are pointing fingers at Russia? Ummm yeah...that works...

Im not saying Russia is right and im not saying we are right / wrong....lets face it all conflicts have years of history behind then and we cant simply untangle it. But one way to improve things would be if we grew up a little bit. This is not the school playground.

Little too much hypocrisy methinks.

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Anonymous Coward

@Russian gas etc.

"And Russia certainly has the requisite oil and gas - AND controls the pipelines from Central Asia, apart from the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Russia has the ability to maintain the gas flow for years to come."

No it doesn't. If it did, it wouldn't have needed to do the Central Asian gas deal. It would supply from it's own fields. Putin will try to grab that oil soon enough. Russia's exports are 60% petroleum.

@So, you want a shooting war with Russia?

Georgians did not vote for Russian control, and do not want you, you are an invader. You do not leave, you have killed thousands, I would be proud to serve in a war to drive our Russians. I don't fear your threat of nukes.

"how long do you think you will be able to retain such control before you run out of money and run"

How long do you think you can hold Georgia if we support the Georgian army? Georgia didn't want to be part of Russia, they don't want you. You are an invader. How long do you think you can support your annex in the Baltics? All those Russians in hostile Eastern Europe?

"A delusion has swept the West, again"

You were driven out of Afghanistan, right now the Indian army is probably a bigger threat than the Russian one. We should arm the Georgians and stand shoulder to shoulder with them.

@"It's all well and good for you 'merkins to take a cold war stance, but for us poor fuckers in Europe, the return of a 'Cold War' will result in it being literally very cold, when the Russians shut down the gas supplies."

What happens when they control the Central Asian states and our *alternate* supply of oil and gas is cut? It will be a damn site colder.

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IT Angle

@rodrigo et all

A number of the posters are missing the main points in this Georgia conflict.

1. Georgia (as with many other slavic nations) were annexed by Russia and then suffered through major Russification programs under stalin etc - and are struggling to prevent that from happening again

2. Russia has invaded the sovereign territory of a nation in order to 'protect Russian citizens'

3. The 'citizens' are really Georgians who were handed Russian passports by the 'Russian Peacekeapers' stationed there

4. Ukraine has already expelled Russian diplomats for illegally handing out Russian passports

5. Russia has to be stopped NOW - or they will continue onward in a misguided attempt to re-build the ussr

McCain is right on the money with this one - The US -and in fact the world - can't rely on russia as long as the current dictators are in power - and yes, Putin and crowd are dictators, with elections that are about as free and honest as a skunk that doesn't smell

for all of those who have posted comments in favour of Russia - take a good hard look at the facts around this - and the history of the region BEFORE you make silly comments that russia is right!

and no, the above comment has absolutely nothing to do with IT :)

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@rodrigo Andrade

Georgia did not start the war, nor that it tries to commit genocide against Ossetians. Russia started the war in August 6th by letting Chechens cracktroopers firing banned weapons against Georgian peacekeepers. Russia doesn't even have any rights to annex a territory outside its borders.

Read http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/2008/08/the-truth-about-1.php for more information.

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Coat

Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia...

all currently have 'merkin presidents! (OK, One is Canadian) - most seem to have served in 'merkin military intelligence at some point! or been 'neutral commentators' on CIA Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe. The attempted coup-d'etat in Belarus and the machinations in Ukraine just point to a (successful) (Bill) Clinton-Era policy of surrounding the Russian Federation with a very pro-USA fence of 'tame' governments in order to impede a future Russian growth, as viewed from a 1990's perspective. Georgia/Saakashvili seems to have messed this strategy up (temporarily?) by playing soldiers with Vladimir, hence the immediate signing of the Missile Station in Poland with Ms. Rice last week. There seemed to be no fancy subterfuge about going after Iranian missiles this time!?

As for NASA, didn't Bill and State Dept friends factor this in at the time of laying such deep plots? Solved anyway - just buy Chinese access to the ISS.....

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Cancel NASA

Nasa is welfare for scientists. The very fact that senators are making this political argument proves nasa's less about exploration then it is about exploitation of tax payers. Look at what the space entrepreneurs have achieved on a pitance. Sure, yes, duh, of course, there've been problems. Spacex has had 3 incomplete launches out of 3 tries. They've still got a long way to go, however, to match nasa's early record of failures. 4 decades after Apollo the best they can came up with is the exact same mission profile?!? Pathetic. They're not advancing at a rate which could by any objective measure be considered competent. All the US government has to do to get manned space flights going again on a regular basis is to cancel nasa. There's definitely a role for government. They've got world class test/design/analytical facilities which could be opened up to private industry. If the government provided incentives and/or awards for accomplishments it would go a lot further towards the goal of encouraging a robust, sustainable space industry. Since it's inception nasa has been a political animal. Orion is a backwards looking nostalgia boondoggle in the making.

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Anonymous Coward

@Georgia, Iraq, Kuwait

@"Im not saying Russia is right and im not saying we are right / wrong....lets face it all conflicts have years of history behind then and we cant simply untangle it."

Georgia is Kuwait rather than Iraq. We 'untangled' Kuwait. We've driven out invaders before, Georgian did not vote to join Russia, Russia is an invader.

In this case they threaten our oil supply. It's CHECK rather than CHECKMATE, to use Putin endless Chess game metaphor. But we can't leave it till he controls the Central Asia states. That's CHECKMATE then, it's too late to fix it.

"Georgia tried to ethinic cleanse South Ossetia"

Tried? Hah! Putin claimed that *had* ethnically cleansed South Ossetia as an excuse to invade. Now we're back to claiming he 'tried'..... right and how would that work exactly? With a huge army on the border and the worlds news watching????

Russia did not grant South Ossetian's citizenship of Russia, they are just pawns to Putin. If he was at all concerned for them, he would have given the citizenship and let them choose. If South Ossetians were trapped down a mine of in a submarine, he would not even cut short his holiday from concern.

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Unhappy

RE: McCain is right on this IMHO

The more you look at the Ossetia/Georgia the more it looks like Kosova/Serbia.

A small cohesive and historicaly separate group of people dumped by an accident of history into a bigger state which totally ignored thier language and culture. The vast majority of the occupents of South Ossetia a political union with North Ossetia, and, are prepared to become a member of the Russian Federation and subject to Moscow in order to achieve this. The whole shooting match started because Georgia launched an invasion of South Ossetia which established de-facto independence from Georgia several years ago. So while they may be a bucnch of corrupt and thieving b*st*ds, and, thier motives were more opportunistic than altruistic the Russians are basicaly the good guys in this conflict.

As for extending the life of the space shuttle. Its already the most unreliable and expensive space vehicles in history and has been responsable for 14 deaths so far. If McCain wants to extend the service life of this expensive fire trap on his head be it.

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"Tensions".....

Never mind the (well publicised) Russian jolly into Georgia. I think there's probably more tension between Russia and the U.S. due to the U.S. making agreements with Poland to build their missile shield there. Of course, this is not nearly as well publicised.....

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Re:Cancle NASA

Steve, you're just like John in your shortsighted statement. Again, only an idiot would say something as stupid as you just did. Cancle NASA? Where do you think 99% of the technology you take advantage of came from? It came from NASA and those "welfare Scientist" as you call them.

Even NACA made many strides in science before it was renamed NASA in 1958 if I am not mistaken. Its amazing how quick you idiots are to bite the hands that feed you.

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@Destroy All Monsters

"I guess I have finally lived long enough to see random retards (which includes most of the Mainstream Media) bloviating about going up against Russia when they have no idea of what living with Mutual Assured Destruction was like"

Amen. We're getting old, mate :-)

You're absolutely spot on. It would be nice if said retards would hoist into their thick skulls that Russia still has a huge fuckoff nuclear arsenal. And delivery systems. They may not be as modern as those in The Land Of The Free [sic] but they'd do the job.

I sometimes wish (and this ain't very PC) that the US government had some experience of what war is really like for the poor sods caught up in it. I don't mean a single air strike like Pearl Harbor, or a few overseas adventures comfortably far away, but the sort of thing that the inhabitants of Guernica, Warsaw, Rotterdam, Coventry, Stalingrad, Hamburg and Dresden went through. Cities razed flat. The thrilling patriotism of seeing half a generation wiped out and the survivors returning shell-shocked with their lungs burnt away by gas. The stirring glory of marching off to a concentration camp. The heart-swelling pride of seeing your fresh-faced school leaver sent abroad in a new uniform and returning in a coffin. The willing self-sacrifice of giving up your house to accommodate a bunch of drunken foreign soldiers who take a fancy to your daughters.

Now, I wouldn't wish that on anyone. But I do sometimes think that if America had had a taste of what Europe has suffered, the US government might display a level of humility that would earn it some respect.

Flames, because that's where we could be headed.

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Anonymous Coward

Invadification

"The Bush administration only ever gives bullshit reasons for doing anything. I have no idea why they're upset about Georgia."

Because the dumb fuck in the Oval Office probably thought Russian tanks were rolling into Atlanta when he first heard about it, but as usual won't acknowledge that he's wrong because that wouldn't be "strong leadership". Strong leadership is good leadership, right? Right??

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Anonymous Coward

Russians as good guys

"A small cohesive and historicaly separate group of people dumped by an accident of history into a bigger state which totally ignored thier language and culture."

Russia didn't stop at the Ossetic speaking South Ossetians, or the Abkhaz/Turkish speaking Abkhazians... gosh they wouldn't stop at the Kazakh speaking Kazakhstan'ies, or the Persian speaking Iranians no doubt. Their concern for peoples living in strategic military areas, knows no bounds.

The claim that Georgian army had committed genocide was patently false, as was Putins explanation for invading Georgia and all his action since. None of their words has matched their action. Likewise in their commercial dealings, as BP is finding out and Gazprom before them, and the 14 dead journalists whose were critical of Putin.

So we can't rely on them not to screw us over in the oil supply, and can't rely on them not to capture the oil pipelines and breakaway central Asian states. Certainly not rely on them for access to space.

McCain is right.

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This reminds me of a lady I always overhear at lunch.

We go to my favorite restaurant every Saturday. It's nice. We can sit and talk with the owners and the wait staff and it's a general good time during the off period. Usually, there's this lady I like to call "Current Events Grandma," always talking about the latest and greatest bullshit that the local news is feeding her. One weekend it was "those cell phones will give you the cancer." No, really.

Right about Russia invaded Georgia she was talking to the owner (a refugee from Kosovo) about the whole situation and she blurts out, "You still can't trust the damn Ruskies!"

That's just about the vibe I'm getting from McCain. He's ancient, set in his ways, unwilling to change, untrusting, not trustworthy and violent. Like most folks who bought into McCarthyism and the red scare, McCain has an almost religious belief that America is right, Russia is wrong, and they're just waiting to push the big red button at any moment of weakness that we might show.

We *shouldn't* rely on anyone else's space fleet for our launches - we should keep the shuttle active until Project Treading Water is off the ground - but as usual he is careless with his words, lacks comprehension of the situation and is completely biased. Fuck him. It'll be the Cold War all over again if we elect that asshole.

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RE: @Georgia, Iraq, Kuwait

"Georgia is Kuwait rather than Iraq."

The US has triggered Iraqi invasion in Kuwait by suggesting to Saddam that it will see it as an "internal issue for Iraq".

The US has triggered the recent conflict in Georgia by making it appear to Saakashvili that they will support his military intervention in the area.

The similarity ends right there though. If in Kuwait the US had ability to correct the error by hitting back at Saddam, in Georgia the "error correction" had to be done by Russia.

As for McCain and STS - the current leadership (if one can call it that) in the US and the UK is in the terminal stage despair where the years of mindless and short sighted policies are beginning to bring unwanted fruit and the chicken are coming home to roost. In such times it is not unusual for such regimes to seek refuge in creating an external enemy, which will hopefully distract people's attention from the shortcomings of their leaders.

That McCain is jumping on the bandwagon is not at all surprising, after all, he is to George W Bush as Gordon Brown was to Blair. If he gets elected, he will reap all the problems sowed by the years of Bush administration. The Space Shuttle crashing in Texas will not be a big deal for him in comparison with the economic troubles. I doubt he actually cares about the intricacies of space exploration or problems of accessing the ISS - it's just another tool for him to play in the "Russia is the big bad enemy again" game.

Now, it happens that the situation in Russia is in many way similar (the economy, apart from oil, is going nowhere; poverty, corruption and incompetence are rife) and the idea of an External Enemy is quite appealing to their leadership too. So, unfortunately, there will be no quick resolution to the current tension.

As far as the exciteable AC poster here - well, there are always plenty of impressionable people who are easily manipulated by a few slogans, be it about freedom, collective farms, infidels, animal rights or whatever. One thing is common regardless of the underlying cause - once they get under the spell of their dogma it becomes impossible to argue rationally with them.

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E

Foreign Policy Ejaculations

The cold war was perfect for the politics of fear - a Republican specialty - and perfect for the politics of pork - a western democratic model specialty - and we might just be having a new one.

No more need to invade any place or have the troublesome shades of all those dead USA soldiers lurking in the shadows! Big big big *expensive* weapons system contracts for the cronies! A well polished model and enemy for limiting civil rights in the USA, much better than bin Laden whom nobody has actually seen in years! A real industrialized enemy - Russia - with strong science, not some pissant pseudo second world place like Iraq!

McCain, Bush, the rest of the neocon right wing must be having a lot of trouble with their underwear. I've no doubt that that crowd are cumming - multiple times - over the prospect of a new cold war!

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Stop

@ Russians As Good Guys 15:32

"The claim that Georgian army had committed genocide was patently false, as was Putins explanation for invading Georgia and all his action since."

Let's look at that again.

"The claim that Iraqi army had 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' was patently false, as was Bush's explanation for invading Iraq and all his action since."

So I guess we can say, quite safely, that the Americans, and the British, governments have absolutely no right at all to criticise what the Russians are doing. I'm used to politicians being hypocritical, but ferchrissakes, this is just silly. I don't support Putin, but if Bush says Putin is wrong.... I have trouble not believing the Russians to be in the right!

(I grew up in pre-Glasnost Canada in the 70's, complete with instructions on what to do if the balloon went up as part of my schooling from the age of 5, and, like Destroy All Monsters and Mike Smith, have no wish to see my kids growing up with the constant fear of nuclear obliteration. Just so that's clear. Between Putin and McCain, I think it's actually a real possibility.)

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Black Helicopters

mutual assured destruction

When Russia threatened to nuke Poland recently, I thought "Thank God. Maybe this will inject a little sanity into world politics." Why? Because (a) nobody wants to end up blowing up the Earth, (b) MAD is something that anyone can understand, and it's based on good science and (c) anyone can understand game theory enough to realise that the best solution is to disarm all nukes. Compare the MAD world to the one in which we currently live with nebulous, namby-pamby threats from shadowy "terrrists" attacking "our freedoms". I'll take MAD and the rational debate that it engenders (nay, demands) any day over, say, the like of argument that says it's ok to torture someone into confessing to a hare-brained plot to commit a terrorist attack because it might save a couple of hundred lives.

So, to get back on topic, the US has the highest military spending of any country in the world. If they fear a PR disaster that ceding the ISS might pose then they have more than enough military spending that could be cut in order to support NASA to do what's needed. If they deem the ISS to be of any value to them, of course. Personally, I think there are better things they could spend the money on (social support systems, rather than space ambition support systems), but if the upshot is that they have to make cutbacks to military spending, then I'm all for it.

Anonymous? Why the hell for?

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RE: Annexing

Differences between the US's action in Iraq and Russia's action in Georgia:

-Georgia is a democracy, Iraq was a dictatorship.

-Iraq gassed the Kurds (hence we know they had WMD - so either they used them all up, they hid them really well, or they offloaded them to someone else). The people claiming Georgia was ethnically cleansing S.O. and Abkhazia are the Russians.

-Iraq has a functioning government and the US intends to remove itself (over time). S.O. and Abkhazia do not really have functioning governments, and it's a safe bet Russia intends to absorb them, rather than make their their own country a la Kosovo.

I don't know how many times I need to say this before people pull their heads out of their collective asses. Even if the US Government knew there were no WMD in Iraq, that doesn't change that there was more than enough reason to go in there. Not being told the REAL reason doesn't mean that no valid reason exists. The fact is that Saddam Hussein was a genocidal whack job that retained power through fear and force. WMDs or not, the US action in Iraq was justified.

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Anonymous Coward

@Mike

It's not EITHER OR

Bush should no have invaded Iraq, they were not a threat, had no WMDs (and this was known), were delivering the oil and no threat to their neighbours then.

Bush Snr was right to kick them out of Kuwait. Iraq was an invader, it was strong then, did represent a threat to it's neighbours and our oil supplies.

"So I guess we can say, quite safely, that the Americans, and the British, governments have absolutely no right at all to criticise what the Russians are doing."

Yes they do. Bush may have no credibility but everyone has the right to criticise. IMHO McCain is spot on, I still think Obama would be a much better President (McCain is a stooge for others/ not his own man/ not the man of his households even and I believe Obama would pick his fights much better). Nevertheless he's right on this.

(I speak as the son of a Polish man from Eastern Germany who got out before the curtain came down, as for the MAD comments above, I hope when Putin comes with his army to your door you aren't so afraid. Some battles are worth fighting.).

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Joke

A better choice for pilot

No, don't send McCain. He's too old and can't keep his Shiite straight anymore.

We need an experienced expendable pilot who's not afraid to volunteer for duty in hazardous mission areas.

Won't Bush Jr. be unemployed for life come January?

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The Crew Exploration Vehicle could fly sooner on top of a Delta IV

Around 4 years ago Boeing proposed that the Delta IV Heavy be used to launch the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) into Space. The use of an off the shelf rocket such as the Delta IV would have greatly reduced the effort in placing the CEV in Space and I think would have enabled the CEV to be launched into Space shortly after the last Shuttle flew.

Unfortunately saving money was the last thing that vested interests wanted. The congressmen for those states heavilly involved in Shuttle manufacturing wanted to ensure that those states make the new Orion hardware. This means that the CEV and the later Lunar exploration hardware will be launched into Space using a Frankenstein's monster constructed of bits and pieces of Shuttle hardware.

It may be that a new rocket design is needed to get back to the Moon but the obvious question is whether there is any need to send men back to the Moon in the next 20 years. If US manned spaceflight was confined to Earth orbit then probably 50% of the entire NASA budget would be freed to send unmanned orbiters and rovers all over the Solar Sytem.

It is worth considering the fact that if you divide the yearly cost of the Shuttle program by the number of Shuttle flights then the cost of each Shuttle Flight comes out as around one billion dollars. This implies that each Hubble servicing mission costs around one billion dollars. Shuttles are regularily used to service the Hubble despite the fact that the cost of sending a brand new Hubble telescope into Space using a conventional rocket is only 250 million dollars.

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