Still Learning to Live Together in Space?

A Russian cosmonaut spoke out last week before boarding the Soyuz and heading to the International Space Station, saying that while astronauts and cosmonauts have no problems getting along on board the ISS, the bureaucracies on the ground may still be experiencing a bit of cold war bickering. Gennady Padalka told the Novaya Gazeta newspaper that officials from Russia, the United States and other countries require cosmonauts and astronauts to eat their own food and follow stringent rules on access to other facilities, like toilets. “What is going on has an adverse effect on our work,” said Padalka, now on board the ISS, who will be taking over command of the space station for Expedition 19 and 20. Padalka, American astronaut Michael Barratt and spaceflight participant Chalres Simonyi reached the ISS on Saturday. “Cosmonauts are above the ongoing squabble, no matter what officials decide. We are grown-up, well-educated and good-mannered people and can use our own brains to create normal relationship. It’s politicians and bureaucrats who can’t reach agreement, not us, cosmonauts and astronauts.”

Padalka, a veteran of two previous missions to the ISS said the squabbles are hurting the crew’s morale and complicating work in space.

Russian space agency spokesman Alexander Vorobyov didn’t have an immediate comment to Padalka’s views.

Padalka said the arguments began back in 2003, when Russia started charging other space agencies for the resources used by their astronauts. Other partners in space station responded by requiring similar rules.

Padalka on the ISS:  Sharing food is good in space.  Credit: NASA
Padalka on the ISS: Sharing food is good in space. Credit: NASA

While sharing food in the past helped the crew feel like a team, new rules require the Russian cosmonauts and U.S. and other astronauts to eat their own food, Padalka said. Also, he said he asked before the current mission whether he could use an American exercise equipment to help stay in shape in the microgravity environment in space.

“They told me: ‘Yes, you can.’ Then they said no,” he was quoted as saying. “Then they hold consultations and they approve it again. And now, right before the flight, it turns out again that the answer is negative.”

“They also recommend us to only use national toilets,” Padalka was quoted as saying.

Padalka was also quoted as criticizing the Russian portion of the station, saying it looks backward compared to other sections.

“It’s built on technologies dating back to the mid-1980s, at the very latest,” he said. according to the report. “We are lagging seven to 30 years back in various space technologies.”

Russia’s space program has been known to be in financial troubles, and they have been selling seat on its Soyuz spacecraft to bring space tourists to the space station. However, with the increase in crew size on the ISS from three to six, every every spare seat on the Soyuz are spoken for, with no room for any additional tourists in the coming years.

Credit: Yahoo News

11 Replies to “Still Learning to Live Together in Space?”

  1. sheesh, this is like segregation… f-ing ridiculous. this is science not dogmatic political bullsh–t

  2. Bureaucracy, something you can’t do without yet something you can’t live with. Stupid, really.

  3. I would go crazy from boredom on a trip to Mars- I would be rejected fast!!!!! lol

  4. What’s going to stand in the way if there was an emergency situation up there, politics? Or, would working together using common sense ensure their survival?

  5. Rules are made to be broken- I wonder why some good comrade politco decided that the Russians should not use the USA facilities. Maybe the US charges too much to go to the can. Or perhaps the Americans did not pay them for the last time that they borrowed theirs. I wonder if they keep track of who went when and where they went – finger print readers on the bathroom doors?

    I thought that the cold war was over- I bet that they still try each others food every once in a while- off the record of course- just too see what is on the menu. Except for the American peanut butter products- which have all been recalled recently, everything else should be fine.

  6. even here in the UT forum i have read comments in the past that have had a decidedly anti-russian flavor to them.

    it’s a shame really, because not only in space but here on the ground, scientists have formed stronger bonds with their russian counterparts since the end of the cold war. it’s very frustrating whenever politics come between our work with each other.

  7. I believe our new President and administration will heal wounds-we have to as we are still armed with +4000 nuclear warheads each that can be thrown at each other-but still, I’d be a poor canidate to go into space, perhaps 1 orbit but that;s about it!!!

  8. @pantzov- In the USA in the 50’s-60’s and 70’s as children we were told that the Russians were evil people who only wanted to bomb us off of the face of the earth, as I am sure the people of the USSR were taught that the Americans were equally evil.

    Then one day all of a sudden we were all friends. Some people on both sides have a hard time remembering- but we should be friends and work together for the common causes of mankind.

    Wouldn’t our world be a better place if we all figured out that we are 99.9 % the same! Politicians and bureaucrats make some really stupid rules and do not give a moments thought about the effects on those that the rules affect, even when they may be hurting two teams that are trying to keep an orderly house in space.

    Hello my Russian Friend- Let me buy you a cup of coffee! Let us talk, after all we are brothers of the Earth.

  9. There is a comment that the Russian parts are “built on technologies dating back to the mid-1980s, at the very latest”. but hey remember, it is working. In a couple of years Soyuz may be the only ride home. I use an Intes (Russian) scope for my astronomy. It works great. some parts may be heavy and crude – but it is optically fantastic and structurally sound. Don’t knock if it works well.

  10. Rules are made for the guidance of wise men and the observance of fools.. Imagine being caught short in the wrong end of the station and having to ‘space swim’ to the other end for a pee or whatever. Ridiculous.

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