Facing sanctions from the United States government, a high-ranking Russian official took to Twitter today (April 29) to express his frustration, warning that NASA has few options should Soyuz flights to the International Space Station cease.
“After analyzing the sanctions against our space industry, I suggest to the USA to bring their astronauts to the International Space Station using a trampoline,” wrote Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s deputy prime minister, in a Russian-language tweet highlighted by NBC News.
The jibe points to the fact that only the Russians can bring crews up to the space station right now. Rogozin also linked to a story in Russian RT where he is quoted as saying (if Google Translate is correct) that the Americans will see a “boomerang” of sanctions laid upon Russian officials.
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On April 2, as part of a larger policy of the Obama administration, NASA announced it would cease most connections with Russia except for those essential ones related to the International Space Station. NASA administrator Charles Bolden has repeatedly said that things are normal with the Russians when it comes to the station.
The United States is dependent on the Russian Soyuz to bring astronauts to the space station. The U.S. method of transportation ceased in 2011 after the space shuttle retired, and commercial spacecraft — though being developed — are not expected to be ready until about 2017.
That said, one of the developers of these spacecraft — SpaceX CEO Elon Musk — wrote on Twitter that the public will soon see the unveiling of the human-rated Dragon spacecraft that the company has been working on with contract money from NASA. (The other funded spacecraft proposals are Boeing’s CST-100 and Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser).
Cover drops on May 29. Actual flight design hardware of crew Dragon, not a mockup.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 29, 2014
The Russian situation is expected to weigh heavily on NASA budget discussions for fiscal 2014 and 2015 as agency officials try to make their case that commercial funding should be sustained, or even increased, for Americans to be able to launch from their own soil again quickly.