Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Qel Surpris!

The Russian space agency has hiked the amount NASA will have to pay them to ferry astronauts up to the International Space Station.  Beginning in 2014, the cost of moving one American butt from Baikonur to the ISS will go from $56 million to $63 million dollars per person.

The contract extension with the Russian Space Agency totals $753 million, which covers trips for a dozen astronauts from 2014 through 2016.

NASA blames the price increase on "inflation".


Let me explain this to you, Sparky the NASA Spokesperson, and I'll try to use small words.

Inflation?  Really?  Either you're as dumb as a bag of hammers or you think we all are.  This is extortion, nothing more or less.  Either we pay them through the nose to get into space or we don't go.

The Russians do not like us, never have and never will.  They spent most of the 1960's and 1970's watching us build shiny moon rockets while they perfected the art of putting cosmonauts in orbit on the cheap.  They will partner with us when it is profitable to do so, but don't expect any "family pricing" from them for anything.  Since the Bush and Obama administrations decided to cut out our only way of getting real live American scientists into low earth orbit, the Russians are pretty much the only game in town.  Like any other large single-source monopoly, they're going to charge as much as the market can bear with no worries as to what a competitive solution might cost.  Anyone who expresses surprise at this needs to come talk to me about some beach front property in the Ozarks.

The only thing I'm surprised about is that the Russians didn't wait until we'd officially decommissioned the space shuttle fleet later this year before announcing their little price hike.  They're usually much better extortionists than this.

Here's an idea:  Why doesn't the government cut all NASA ISS launch costs out of the budget, use the saved money to create tax incentives for private space launch businesses, and work towards cutting the Russians out of our business altogether?  I'd rather pay Richard Branson a few million dollars a seat than give Putin a red kopek.

And you guys who are trying to re-invent the re-usable space vehicle wheel?  How about you license the proven workhorse Soyuz capsule from the Russians or revamp the Gemini capsules for a few million dollars, team up with United Launch Alliance, and use Delta IV rockets to put a few people or a few tons of cargo into orbit on the cheap.  Use the profits from that to fund your "space tourism" research.  Something tells me it wouldn't be that hard to mate a proven space capsule to a proven rocket design.

"Inflation" my eye.


Old NFO said...

When you have the ONLY means, you can charge what ever your little heart desires... and the Russians are taking advantage of it!

MrG's said...

I keep thinking that we are turning our back on space and retreating. Allowing the Russians and Chinese to have it. NASA is more concerned about making goodwill with the islamic world according to the directive from the teleprompter one....

DaddyBear said...

It's not just Obama. No administration since maybe Reagan, more likely Johnson has put space exploration and the accompanying scientific and technological gains at anything near the top of their priority. I'm a bit of a starry eyed optimist, but I really believe that our economic and cultural future depends on being a major player when the rest of the solar system is being exploited. I'll be pissed if the lingua franca on the moon base is Chinese.

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