On August 24, a Russian Soyuz rocket failed at its third stage. It
was unmanned but the unexpected disaster has checked further scheduled
launches from Kazakhstan. Thanks to the multilateral connectivity of
American, Russian, and European space programs this set back could leave
the ISS unmanned by year’s end.
At the moment there are three astronauts
up at the ISS and their robot pal (that would be Mr. Robonaut 2, not
Bender). If tests on the Soyuz boosters propelling manned rockets are to
go ahead, the resulting delays could force NASA to cancel further missions. A major bummer, since the ISS was only completed in may this year.
This unprecedented setback is now being construed as a new low for
what passes as a global space program. Since the Russians are more
fixated on commercializing low orbit
and NASA is hampered by a lack of finances, mankind’s destiny in the
stars might be ignored for a couple of decades. perhaps it’s high time
super-expensive orbital infrastructure should be left at the hands of
cold, calculating AI akin to HAL 9000.
But who knows? Ascendant space programs in developing countries
probably have a good shot at making up for lost time. Also, the
privatization of aerospace could pave the way for our science fiction
dreams made real.
In the meantime, NASA mulls whether to still bother with sending astronauts to the ISS.
Source Discovery News