When it comes to world politics and international diplomacy, principles and convictions are a matter of convenience. And much like in every other aspect, USA is the global leader in this turf as well.
NASA has just issued a statement that it has just suspended all contact with Russia’s space program due to the political tension between the two nations over Crimea. But, it has one little exception on the list – the International Space Station.
Mixing science and politics is never the greatest idea. While the US government has gone ahead and issued a memo suspending majority of NASA’s engagements with Russian Federal Space Agency, it will still need to use Russia’s space shuttle program to reach the ISS and back home! Obviously the Obama administration does not expect any major retaliation in this regard for the moment.
It must be noted that the US has had a similar policy towards China as well when dealing with space exploration related issues.
But in case of Russia, the relationship between the two space agencies has been “very close” since the early 90s. NASA shut down its space shuttle program in 2011 and has since then relied on the Russians to transport its crew to ISS.
Obviously, each seat on a Russian shuttle costs the US $70.7 million, but it seems like the US administration is more comfortable writing such cheques, instead of investing in its own shuttle program.
For now, NASA maintains that with reduced funding approved by Congress they could get their own shuttle program running by 2017.