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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  1. 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...

  2. CrackedButter

    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.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  4. 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.


  5. John Stag

    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

  6. Anonymous Coward
    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:

    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.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  8. Austin Chamberlain
    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.

  9. Chris Thorpe

    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?

  10. Solomon Grundy

    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.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    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.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @ 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.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    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.

  14. Scott

    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.

  15. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    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.

  16. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    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...

  17. Wokstation


    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!")

  18. dervheid

    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.

  19. Dangermouse

    @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.

  20. White Whale

    "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.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. Joe Cooper

    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.

  23. Gordon Pryra

    @Rodrigo Andrade

    You hit the nail on the head there

  24. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    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.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    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.

  26. Peyton

    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.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    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

  28. Anonymous Coward

    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.


  29. Jakub

    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.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    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 :)

  32. Bryan Sylvester

    @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 for more information.

  33. An nonymous Cowerd

    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.....

  34. Steve

    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.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  36. James Anderson

    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.

  37. Andy Worth


    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.....

  38. Scott

    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.

  39. Mike Smith

    @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.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "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??

  41. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  42. Bryce Prewitt

    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.

  43. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    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.

  44. 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!

  45. Mike Crawshaw

    @ 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.)

  46. Frumious Bandersnatch
    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?

  47. Michael

    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.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    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.).

  49. Henry Cobb

    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?

  50. PaulM

    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.

  51. Anonymous Coward

    All hail the armchair generals!

    I am ever inspired by the brilliant military strategists and Machtpolitik masters of the Great Game that continually pop up out of IT land to enlighten us here. Although probably not on a first-name basis with Mr. Putin, they seem ready to parachute into Georgia or the Kremlin or wherever and go mano-a-mano with that redoubtable ex-KGB man.

    The reverberating echoes of breast beating, the tattoo of the drums and the skirl o' the pipes: it's enough to bring out the howler monkey in anyone. (Excuse me while I go find someone to beat up, preferably older, sicker and/or drunker.)

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @All hail the armchair generals!

    You haven't disputed a single thing Mr AC, and your free not to listen.

  53. NT

    responsible foreign policy

    First, the situation in Georgia. I'm afraid I just don't understand it - at least, the west's reaction to it. I don't understand why the UN and NATO rush to defend seceding regions in the Balkans (Kosovo); why they defended seceding regions of the USSR (including Georgia); yet now condemn two regions of Georgia whose people, at least as I understand it, largely *do not want to be part of Georgia*. If, as some are suggesting, this is a propaganda lie by Russia, then I'm at a loss to understand the evident frictions between South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Georgia.

    I am certainly no fan of Putin or his puppet Medvedev; I'm also no fan of George Bush and I don't like the look of McCain (don't get me started on our own politicians). I don't think brinkmanship is a responsible foreign policy, but I think that's what we're in for. Russia may not have been right to attack Georgia - but if I were the western governments I think I might still choose to be a little less strident in my criticism. Maybe use a few more of these >?< and fewer of these >!<. If nothing else, I'd give suitable consideration to the fact that Russia, while not what it once was, is still enormously powerful, and has powerful friends and some very heavy weapons. A conflict involving the USA and Europe and Russia and China, plus whatever other nations wanted to weigh in, would only resolve in one way: we'd make a desert and call it peace. Now maybe some will whinge that that sounds like appeasement: "why should Russia be allowed to do what it likes just because it's powerful?" Well, the answer is *because* it's powerful. *Precisely* the same principle that the USA uses to justify its various military adventures around the world, and that Britain used before it.

    Then there's the question of the usefulness of space research. It's not simply useful, it's essential if our species is to have any really long-term survivability. It infuriates me that so many people seem so totally unable to grasp the precarious nature of our existence. We have been here for an *eye-blink of time*. We are not the be-all and end-all; we are not the axis of the universe. The universe can, and sooner or later will, swat us out of existence.

    Frankly I don't care whose flags Earth's spacecraft wear in the future, just as long as there are spacecraft to put them on.

    Then there's money. The US national debt is running at $9 trillion at the moment. That's $9 trillion that the USA has spent that it didn't have. A hefty portion of that has come from other countries - including China, one of the countries the west loves to criticise. It might be worth giving that a thought from time to time: the higher the debt climbs, the more power these other countries ultimately have over America. In the unfortunate vernacular of an acquaintance of mine, it might be time for the US to start giving some thought to winding its neck in a little. It's all very well bolshing around the planet as though you own the place - but it becomes a lot less convincing when the stark fact is that the place actually owns you.

    As far as the shuttle fleet goes, I'd be the first to say rescue it if I thought it was practical - I love those little ships and I'd hate to see them retired. But retired they will certainly have to be: they're getting old, and the stresses they're expected to go through every time they're launched and recovered are immense. There's only so much beating a vehicle can take before it fails. Two have already been lost. NASA knows that STS can't fly forever. Recertifying them may extend their usable lifespan, but if, gods forbid, another crew is lost on Atlantis or Discovery or Endeavour in the time between recertification and the deployment of Constellation I can only imagine the outcry.

    Oh, and Mike Smith? Amen to all that.

  54. goggyturk

    @ All hail the armchair generals!

    What, you want to go man on man with this guy?

    With all this talk of breasts and playing with pipes, I wouldn't like to be around to see how that turns out, but whatever turns you on I suppose...

  55. Mark


    "Russia annexed large parts of Georgia and called it 'supporting independence'."

    And a puppet government is in Iraq, invaded and fixed without tender to a US company "to ensure democracy in the middle east".

    You don't see hypocrisy in that???

  56. Mark

    "Iraq gassed the Kurds"

    "-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)."

    Uh you knew he had them because HE BOUGHT THEM OFF YOU.

    This is why he wasn't done for that incident: too many things would have been demanded and denied to make it anything but a hugely obvious farce and a worse PR disaster.

  57. Mark
    Black Helicopters

    And another gem

    "-Iraq has a functioning government and the US intends to remove itself (over time)."

    What about the bases you built there? Just going to abandon them?



    "I don't know how many times I need to say this before people pull their heads out of their collective asses."

    you need to get your own cranium out of your rectum. Maybe we can hear you then.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @ Mike Smith

    I'm generally with McCain on this one. Russia has already used or tried to use their control of gas pipelines to intimidate Ukraine, Georgia, Poland, the Czechs, the Baltic Republics. This is demonstrated fact.

    Given this it would be irresponsible to risk some form of blackmail over Russian control of the only launch vehicle to space after 2010. Barring a solution to the current tensions, it would be inadvisable to subsidise the Russian aerospace sector. I guess the U.S. taxpayer will just have to pony up some money to pay to keep the shuttles going.

    As for your desire to see Americans scarred by "real" war:

    1) You have to remember that America TRIED to stay out of both Euro-conflagrations of the last century. We got pulled in because in 1917 we took a principled position on freedom of navigation on the open ocean in the face of having our ships torpedoed and in 1941 because we took a principled position on "no we are not going to stand by and do nothing while Britain and China are strangled".

    2) The Euro-experience of both of those wars was that runaway patriotism and military-industrial complexes leads to disaster. The American experience was the exact opposite--"isolationist/hands off" foreign policies/public sentiment and minimalist military-industrial complexes leads you to being dragged into wars that you are unprepared for by aggressors that view you as weaklings--resulting in hundreds of thousands of avoidable American and tens of millions of avoidable foreign deaths.

    3) After the victory at the cost of tens of millions of deaths, as the remaining intact major economy you are expected to bear a huge share of the costs of reconstructing the conflict zone. See British and French defaults on their WW1 debts to the U.S. (another reason we wanted no part of round 2 in 1939) and the Marshall Plan and the ongoing subsidisation of Eurosecurity by the U.S. taxpayer today.

    4) America got its share of total warfare in our own country in the American Civil War in the 1860s--which included WW1 style trench warfare towards the end and demonstrated that 1914-1916 infantry assaults would be horribly bloody against rifled firearms and artillery. In WW1 lots of American elder statesmen and opinion leaders had served or been children in that war and they warned the Europe that they it might be starting something that couldn't be controlled. Needless to say American opinions were not taken as seriously as they might have been.

    So don't preach to Americans about how we have no comprehension of the costs of war or the value of non-interference in the affairs of others.

  59. mario

    ... the usefulness of space research

    "Then there's the question of the usefulness of space research. It's not simply useful, it's essential if our species is to have any really long-term survivability. It infuriates me that so many people seem so totally unable to grasp the precarious nature of our existence. We have been here for an *eye-blink of time*. We are not the be-all and end-all; we are not the axis of the universe. The universe can, and sooner or later will, swat us out of existence."


    A couple of years ago a collegue and good friend of mine (who IS in the position access the real numbers) calculated on a whim on the back of an evelope that the ISS costs per year the equivalent of 75% of the annual budget of the german Max Planck Gesellschaft (too lazy to translate this into an NIH budget number or such for the boys accross the Atlantic). This means that keeping three man on that rig up there going costs as much as keeping 11700 fulltime researchers + 4300 assistants + the associated labspace down here humming along.

    Not even attempting to belittle the discovery of the telfon pan or the inevitable requirement of zero gravity for 0.0000001% (my estimate) of all kind of break-through experiments ranging from material sciences to biology, I somehow doubt that the scientific production of the ISS falls anything than three to four magnitudes shorter than what I would call a fair return of investment.

    The ISS is and has always been a political circus covered up with a scientific fig-leaf in desperate search for a raison d'etre. Therefore McCain using it for his election propaganda is what I would call a cruel irony...

    For the hot-blooded cold-warriors up there only three words: Hypocrisy is bliss.

  60. Rocco

    John McAint... Wrong again!

    Again this geezer is wrong. NASA needs more funding. Lots of innovation has come from NASA. For one, the PC you are sitting at is a direct result of NASA research. What McAncient wants to do is to privatize the space agency, as do the rest of these neocons.

    Why is the citizenry of the US so stupid, as to elect people to their government, who say government does not work. Hasn't it been proven to them yet, that when they put these kinds of people in a position of responsibility, they will MAKE SURE that it does not work, thus making their assertion true?!?!?!

    The government is NOT a corporation, nor is the US a country of, by and for the corporations. Last I heard, it was supposed to be for WE THE PEOPLE. Corporations are not people, they are pieces of paper, and pieces of paper should not have the same rights as people. But I babble...

    Back to the main topid

    Less than a half cent of every tax dollar is spent on NASA. If we took some of the money that we were spending on wars, and the corporate welfare given to huge corporations, first of all, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in, and second, we would be able to fund programs like NASA to its fullest. But entities like Bushco, Inc, Halliburton, and others want to get their share of the contributions that they spent, and then more. Corporate greed is the problem. Alleviate this, and we will be much better off, not only in the US, but on the entire planet.

  61. Michael C

    many prblems with McCain

    Ok, first, this Russia-Georgia thing? OK, look at it this way: Mexico, with a band of underfunded radicals, declares it;s taking back Texas from the USA, and raids the state in force headed towards Dallas, empting banks and resources along the way. Their politicians spout thqat that the USA can't possibly do more than chase them out and would never have the guts to enter Mexico in retaliation. Do you think we'd really stand by???

    Russia did not start this, Georgia did, and unfortunately for them, they drew the wrong straw, and Russia, long downtrodden, decided it wasn't going to take it anymore and invaded. Sure, they're killing people in the streets, and using non-pinpoint bombing techniques, but WE DIID THE SAME GOING INTO IRAQ... Should the whole wold see us in the same light as Russia? Do we have any right to complain when we ourselved have done (are doing) the same thing?

    Next: The ISS is an international cooperation. We only need the shuttles for manned missions, and since we are a big funder of the ISS, and have supported russias cosmonots on it for years, it;s about time they returned the favor. We cans till launch lots of other unmanned missions using other technology. Lets let China, Russia, the UK, and a few other spend all the money getting to the ISS for a while. They're not going to let that project fail, there's too much at stake up there for too many nations.

    Next: The ISS is valueable for a lot more than teflon and a few other minor experiments. Its part one of our ability to construct large scale craft in space. Without this we can not build systems that might intercept incoming asteroids, nor could we even start on a path to populating other planets. I'm not so much interested in the science we'll collect from those worlds, but in the resources this may give us access to, and what we'll learn about this planet by going to another. This IS an important process, and we need to continue funding it. Once we get our next manned craft running, lauches will cost in the 10s of millions, not billions, and we'll get a lot more done.

    McCain is still living in a world where we hate russia. The rest of us got over that long ago, the cold war ended, and we've made great strides, partnerships, and more with Russia, not to mention on our current track, they'll be a more powerful economy than us in not too long of a time. McCain is treading dangerous water, and if he continues, we're likely to have another cold war on our hands. The world trusts us little enough, if we elect someone they see as paranoid, our place will fall farther, and we risk wars with actual nations, not just radical terrorists.

    Oh: spewing gas on a few kerds is not a WMD. A WMD would be a device capable of dispursing said gas across a large distance and over a large area. The gas bombs they used were mostly trucks and short range scuds, and the gas was only of limited effect. A chemical waepon is not necessarily a WMD. Also, this gassing occurred in 1990, when he DID have WMDs, before he burines and destroyed them all and purged his country of anything that would again bring the UN's wrath. We chose to ignore that fact since Jr wanted to finish Daddy's little war.

  62. Anonymous Coward

    @stephen kraft

    "in 1941 because we took a principled position on "no we are not going to stand by and do nothing while Britain and China are strangled"

    Absolute BULLSHIT.

    In 1941 you joined in because the Japanese left you no choice.

    If they hadn't bombed Pearl Harbor, you'd have left us to rot and you know it.

  63. Zmodem

    build a new shuttle or someone else will

    and being blasted through space in a laughable tincan will shatter thousands of dreams of future astronauts

  64. Jesse Dorland
    IT Angle

    Democracy the modern profanity

    A luntic poster suggest that since Georgia is a "democracy" therefore it's okay for them to enforce their will on a minority -- I wonder if he'll use the same reasoning say with African American. Since North America is mostly white wouldn't it be okay for them to reslaved Blacks, and kill non-white as their forefather did to Native Americans & Africans?

    Now, this is the same BS your type have used to justify Indian democracy. Indian like Soviet Union & Serbia is an artifical country, many of its regions are unhappy with "hindi" government. The big ones are niggland, kashmire, punjab and tamil to name few. Many European like myself have seen the genocide committed by Indian soliders against christian, and other minority, and we know well full why there is no cry against Indian while Russian little pokemon show gets your pants' wet.

    Now go back and watch all those spyware porn you download while waving made-in-china flag.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Steven Kraft

    "Up to 1941 because we took a lot of money selling weapons and ammo, then Pearl Harbour was bombed, leaving us no choice but to become involved"

    Fixed that for ya!

    Or maybe that didnt happen in your alternate universe.

    Similar situation in WW1.

    The US acts only in its own self interest, or rather the interests of its corporations.


  66. Roger Brown

    experience is a wonderful thing.....

    I've recently read that McCain is 70-something, which is supposed to stand in his favour in politics;

    I don't know how old Putin is, and given the way he rose to power, he's been there for a long time, too;

    Both of these lads are either old enough to have been active during the Cold War or have been influenced by it.....the middle of which is when NASA was created. With some people, the old ways are best because they're familiar, especially when the world changes around the people who don't like the new.

    Trouble is, we now need new ways of thinking because all the change that we're creating with our consumptive habits and technology are going to leave us a bit short on the energy/power-supply side.....and we need to adapt to that before we're forced into it.

    The ISS is the only space-based facility that the world has right now, and the shuttle-fleet is at least ten years past its sell-by date (never mind being a huge compromise on the original craft-design in the first place).

    Given this context, there's hardly a surprise that politics may get stroppy about who's going to service the stations' crews or the station itself.

  67. Anonymous Coward

    Armchair generals: why

    My point is that the Great Game is for the elites to play; they settle their scores with the blood of whoever will follow the flag.

    For ordinary mortals like ourselves to take their false dilemmas and talking points seriously and hurl them back and forth at each other is tantamount to urinating in our breeches: although it may give us a warm feeling for a moment, it makes absolutely no difference to the elites who are in fact laughing at us, our presumption, and our futile gesture (and wondering why we aren't wearing pants, but I digress...).

    I have the same reaction to people who excoriate Dubya for implementing stupid, counterproductive and immoral policies. The policies are actually brilliant, productive and were never intended to be moral. They are simply not ***our*** plans, and our middle-class morality and national loyalty blind us to the enormity of their scope.

    If some of you enjoy being actors in this low-level and utterly irrelevant Punch and Judy show, by all means go ahead. Defend McCain and attack Obama, or defend Obama and attack McCain; hold forth as if you had a personal stake in geopolitics and an actual say in troop deployments. I'm just suggesting that there are much better uses of your precious time.

    I suggest that we all go back to arguing about an issue in which our opinions actually count to some extent. Linux versus Windows, Mac versus PC, Smalltalk versus PHP, you get the idea.

    If in reality you care about why we're all in this handbasket travelling towards warmer climes, just look at the macro trends (usurpation of power by NGOs/QUANGOs, disappearance of the middle class, nationalization of what was local and globalization of what was national). Then ask why the media alternate between soliciting your opinion on the OJ case one day and on humbling the Russian bear the next (as if it mattered). Put two and two together, and no way will it add up to the mass media consensus of what is important.

    This is the true danger of armchair generalship: it's a futile pursuit to keep our minds occupied when we're not busy vying for IT contracts to track, monitor, analyze and keep everyone else in their place while we are in fact building a gilded cage for all of us average citizens and for our posterity.

    I haven't quite decided whether the Illuminati, the Vatican, the Eastern Establishment, the Knights Templar, the Elders of Zion, the Lizard People from the Center of the Earth or Mrs. O'Leary's cow are actually responsible. But I do believe that the stated agendas will not reflect the real agendas until an enforceable plan for a new world has been revealed. In the meantime, the rest of you can either applaud/boo the shadows on the cave wall, or sit down for a good long think.

  68. Don

    @@stephen kraft

    You can call bullshit all you want. Only two words show how wrong you are: lend/lease

    Silly US, whenever we do the right thing we get blasted for it.

    Pearl Harbor was just the door Roosevelt walked (rolled) through. He couldn't publicly support China or Britain because of the citizenry's isolationist feelings. Pearl Harbor just got the population behind him.

    I have gotta take McCain's (McPresident? Bwahahaha!) side on the STS issue. But he should be applying pressure to NASA and get them to dump that turkey "Orion".

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ anonymous coward

    Lend Lease (which Churchill himself said contributed something like 30% of the military equipment and munitions used by the ENTIRE British Empire and Commonwealth) was passed in May 1941--7 months before Pearl Harbor.

    The Atlantic Charter which committed the U.S. to returning independence to the conquered states of Europe was signed in March 41 I belive. 9 months before Pearl Harbor.

    The U.S. declared a "exclusion zone" for Nazi warships and submarines in the Western half of the Atlantic in Summer of 41--enforced by the U.S. Navy. This meant that Britain and Canada could concentrate their convoy escorts in the Eastern Atlantic rather than watching the whole pond.

    These were all extremely "un-neutral" actions the U.S. took in Britains favor. The exclusion zone was practically a blockade of German military shipping from half of the Atlantic by the United States--essentially it was an act of war by the U.S. on Nazi Germany.

    And one of the reasons that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor was to destroy the American fleet so it couldn't intervene in their move on Malaya, Burma and Indonesia.

    Check the history books if you doubt it.

  70. Mike Smith

    @steven kraft

    "I guess the U.S. taxpayer will just have to pony up some money to pay to keep the shuttles going."

    Yes, because if access to space is so important to the American government, that's exactly what they'll have to do.

    "You have to remember that America TRIED to stay out of both Euro-conflagrations of the last century"

    Tripe. Unless of course, Pearl Harbor, followed by Japan and Germany's declaration of war against the United States was nothing more than a figment of someone's imagination.

    Hirohito and Hitler declared war on YOU. Was the US government going to sit back and do nothing? I doubt it somehow.

    And if the US government was so concerned about poor old China, why did they wait for five years to get involved? Japan invaded China in 1936. Take a butcher's at The Rape Of Nanking for some unpleasant bedtime reading.

    And as for WWI, don't forget that in 1917, Britain controlled the world's shipping and had an empire that covered a quarter of the globe. If Britain had lost the war, the US would have been faced with a hostile Navy that followed the Two-Power Standard, hostile naval bases in the Caribbean, the Chinese mainland, Singapore, Hong Kong and Canada. Encirclement at one fell swoop. The US had a lot to lose if Britain lost the war.

    By 1917, the war wasn't quite a stalemate, but neither side was making huge gains. The blockade was hurting the Central Powers, but the submarine warfare was hitting Britain almost as hard, because of the Navy's reluctance to adopt the convoy system. Yes, this was doubtless a product of too many people in power who were unresponsive to change, but the effect was to reduce the UK at one point to having only six weeks' food left in the country.

    You can bang about Edith Cavell and the Lusitania all you like, but if the US hadn't got involved in WWI, the next front might have been in Minnesota rather than Mons.

    "The Euro-experience of both of those wars was that runaway patriotism and military-industrial complexes leads to disaster."

    The causes of WW2 were very different to WWI.

    WWI, yes - there was a lot of internal tension building up in all the Great Powers. I won't bore you with chapter and verse, but suffice to say that the stereotype of long summers, croquet, tea on the lawn and respectful lower orders was a complete nonsense other than for a very small minority of people. Widespread political, social and industrial unrest, the suffragettes and some good old-fashioned xenophobia was more like it.

    No-one's disputing that failure to rein in Hitler caused the outbreak of WW2. But when you start to ask the uncomfortable questions, you get a slightly different picture. Why did so many Germans vote for the Nazis between 1928 and 1932? Why were Hitler's territorial claims given any credence? Why was there no power comparable in size to Germany left in Central Europe to act as a check?

    And your two bonus questions - which government threatened a transatlantic arms race straight after WWI when they only had two coastlines to defend and other powers had considerably more? And which government championed a naval treaty that fundamentally altered the balance of power in Europe and then pissed off into isolationism when it all turned nasty?

    "expected to bear a huge share of the costs of reconstructing the conflict zone"

    You need someone to trade with, otherwise your own economy will go down the pan. The markets in Africa and Asia didn't exist back then. Another reason the US government wanted the European empires to go.

    "the ongoing subsidisation of Eurosecurity by the U.S. taxpayer today"

    If Britain, France and Germany were to develop their own nuclear missile systems - and we do have the technical ability to do so - will the likes of McCain say well done? Ah hae ma doots, laddie. Mair like they'll add the EU to the axis of evil.

    "America got its share of total warfare in our own country in the American Civil War in the 1860s"

    Fair point, but it's not the whole story, is it? Did the German fleet shell Los Angeles? No. Did the Luftwaffe blitz Washington? No. Did the SS march triumphantly down Fifth Avenue after the US army surrendered? No. Were all the American Jews rounded up and gassed? No. Did the US enjoy five years of occupation? No. Did the US have to clear up a hostile power's scorched earth policy? No.

    In fact, the last time a foreign power invaded America was in 1814; and that hardly compares with WW2.

    "So don't preach to Americans about how we have no comprehension of the costs of war"

    Go look up the casualty figures - military and civilian - for the two World Wars and see who lost the least. It ain't Europe, mate.

  71. Mike Crawshaw

    @ AC response 17:16

    Yep, I'd agree that defending Kuwait was the right thing to do. That was nearly 20 years ago, right? And we're still there, with no sign of leaving. There are people working at my company who don't remember when we first went into Iraq because they're too young - we've had our lads out there for nearly five times the length of the entire First World War. Doesn't that kinda put it into perspective?

    What I was referring to, with the US governments and the state of the UK having no right to criticise, is that we are doing exactly what Russia is doing, further away from our own borders, on a flimsier pretext. If that ain't the pot calling the kettle black, I can't imagine what is.

  72. druck Silver badge

    Don't loose the tech

    Putting aside politics and global conflict for a moment, the call by McCain is not to take any action which would prevent the life of the Shuttle being extended.

    We should not forget that ability to build the most powerful man rated rocket ever developed, the Saturn V, was very quickly lost once NASA started concentrating on the Shuttle program.

    The Russian Soyuz rockets are from exactly the same era, but they didn't throw it all away when they built and successfully tested their own shuttle, the Buran.

    If we still had Saturn V's, the ISS could have been constructed in a fraction of the time and cost, Saturn I's could be ferrying astronauts up and down indefinitely, and the return to the moon could be achieved any time a US president felt like it.

  73. NT

    Trite, I know, but...

    I'm always astonished at the sheer number of conversational topics that can end up with all this tiresome - I mean really, incredibly tedious and unproductive - bitching and counter-bitching about whether America joined/won/started/cared about World War I/II/III/XXVI, and it goes on and on and on and nobody involved in it seems to realise or care that *the argument will never end*. That, of course, doesn't stop people from dragging it into discussion at every conceivable opportunity.

    And frankly - and I know this isn't a fashionable thing to say bearing in mind the whole 'lest we forget' motif - speaking for myself I don't give two hoots why America joined in World War II when it did. The simple fact is that it *did*, and its assistance was invaluable. I don't know whether we could've won the war without them, and it really doesn't matter: because they *did* join in, we never had to find out, and that's the end of it. There's no point wasting time on meaningless 'what-ifs'. I don't know how much we ended up owing them, and I don't know how much we owe each other now. What I do know is that those questions are for the respective treasuries to deal with, and are certainly no cause for me to start bitching at Americans over something that happened sixty damn years ago.

    As trite and sickening as it probably sounds to all you hardened cynics, the simple fact is that our two countries, the USA and the UK, are friends. We help each other out; we have a lot in common. We have our differences, but our rivalry is, I like to think, moderately good-natured. I'd even venture way beyond acceptable comment for a Brit and suggest that as a matter of fact, these days we generally get on pretty well with Europe, too (it's an unwritten rule in Britain that you're not supposed to say nice things about Europe, and in particular the French and the Germans, but I call bullshit on that stupid, outmoded idea. I have a great deal of respect for Europe).

    I know no historical event exists in a vacuum. I know that both World Wars still reverberate today. But our idiotic leaders are working their arses/asses/whatever the Russian and Chinese are for 'arses' off trying to flare up conflicts the last of which we should've put to rest twenty damn years ago. As if there isn't enough conflict in the world already. We don't HAVE to join in by constantly picking at every last scab and nursing imagined grudges from events over which, let's face it, most of us here are probably too young to claim personal affront.

    Our politicians are exactly this kind of fool, and they're going to bring us *all* down if we're willing to simply line up behind them and buy into their paranoid garbage. If we can't persuade our governments to represent our views, and if we can't change the elitist systems we've put in place whereby only the rich and privileged can exercise power, then the very least we can do is maintain our dignity as human beings which, let's not forget, is one massive thing we all have in common.

    Okay, that's the end of my rant. You can call me a deluded hippy if you like.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    @Anonymous Coward 14:02 GMT

    I can see why you're an AC in this case.

    Must be embarrassing - I mean, with you having that brown stuff on your nose; this stuff being the excretions from the orifice that is Bush's hairy brown star fish.

    My, is that a pube stuck to your nose?


  75. Anonymous Coward




    If Iraq being a dictatorship was really enough justification for invading Iraq, why have the US and UK not then invaded Zimbabwe, North Korea, Darfur etc on that basis?

    Besides which, why does the US have a military base in Cuba which is not subject to the laws of the shreds of the US constitution?

    Why is it that the US can invade sovereign states in the 21st Century without international (UN) approval and Russia can't?

  76. Anonymous Coward

    Irrelevant in every way

    Someone really should point out to McCain and co. that :

    1) The Space Metro contibutes almost nothing to the upkeep of the IIS. Resupply, waste disposal and orbit-correction is handled almost entirely by Russion Progress-M capsules and crew changovers by Russian Soyuz modules (on which the Progress is based) have yet to kill anyone despite being run at a fraction of the cost.

    2) The Russians have vastly more experience and skill at this stuff than the yanks anyway. The ISS itself is basically Mir-2 with other nations bolting on addition modules and trying desperately to catch up with Russia's 30+ year lead in the field. NASA's own attempt to mimic Mir (Freedom) was an absolute and total failure that never even got off it's (ludicrously expensive) drawing board.

    3) They're also MUCH better at getting stuff in and out of orbit. They have sent a mission every 6 weeks or less for the ten-year life of the ISS for a tiny fraction of the cost of the ~20 Space Metro launches in that time period. The Shuttle fleet meanwhile has done little more than the occasional PR run to the ISS and blow one of it's few operational members to pieces.

    4) In fact the only real contribution NASA have made to the ISS was in the first year or so carrying up some of the modules, a job that could have been done safer, cheaper and more reliably by the Russians or the French as well.

    5) European ATVs are the most likely successor to the Space Metro. I don't think anyone seriously expects the US to catch up at this point. Certainly there is no hope NASA will bring anything cost-effective to the table in the foreseeable future.

    In short : The Space Metro is as stupid, irrelevant and useless as it's ground-based cousin and just as prone to death by rust.

    The speak-your-brains section also make for sad reading. Despite hitting Godwin's law within about 4 posts no-one makes the obvious link between America's shitty space program's (based on Nazi tech) long history of getting it's arse kicked by Russian and British efforts (albeit ours are now owned by the French.....).

  77. NT


    "The speak-your-brains section also make for sad reading. Despite hitting Godwin's law within about 4 posts no-one makes the obvious link between America's shitty space program's (based on Nazi tech) long history of getting it's arse kicked by Russian and British efforts (albeit ours are now owned by the French.....)."

    So America's space programme is 'shitty' because of the Nazis?

    Good gods...

  78. Alan Fisher

    Like someone else said...

    you can't trust any government at all! Ol' Bob is Criticising Vlad & Co. for doing what good Ol' Georgie did himself but without the anerascopic veil of 'spreading democracy and liberty' which L'Bush insists upon caveating every statement he makes with!

    Trust no goverment expect the one in charge of the press, you know you can trust them because they tell you that you can ;)

    Democracy dead? To a certain degree it never really existed

  79. Mark

    "its assistance was invaluable"

    No, it was expensive.

    The america we have now isn't the america then. Hell, that was over two generations ago, many of the people that did risk their lives (for whatever reason) are now dead.

    Harking back to that is as relevant as harking back to how Ug saved Grog's life when he threw that stone at the tiger 30,000 years ago.

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