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The U.S. government must now decide whether it will overlook Russia's skirmishes with Georgia

Even though Russia and Georgia have officially signed a cease-fire agreement, the volatile situation between the two nations could jeopardize whether or not NASA astronauts fly to the International Space Station aboard Russian spacecraft in the future, U.S. officials warn.

NASA will be forced to rely on Russian spacecraft to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS on the Soyuz spacecraft and transport supplies from Earth to the space station once the shuttle is retired in 2010.  The next-generation Orion spacecraft is not expected to be done until 2015, at the earliest, NASA previously said.

"The new challenge we have is that for approximately five years, the plan — which is a very bad plan but is the only plan that NASA and the administration and Congress have approved — is to be dependent on the Russian Soyuz vehicle to get people to and from the international space station," said Tom Feeney, (R-FL).  "And so now, with the political realities with Russia invading Georgia, we have a new wrinkle thrown in."

Furthermore, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D, FL) also said the situation between Russia and Georgia could greatly impact the space cooperation between the United States and Russia.  Without the use of Russian spacecraft after the shuttle is retired, NASA astronauts will be unable to get to the ISS to help finish its construction.

Nelson also pointed out that a U.S. law signed in 2000 directly prohibits the government from entering contracts with any nation that gave assistance to North Korea and/or Iran with any nuclear programs -- Russia has helped the nations with their nuclear programs.  Congress must now either reauthorize the waiver so a transportation agreement can be made, or will uphold the 2000 law and not work with Russia.

So far, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has supported the waiver, though it must now pass the House, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senate.  

The French-brokered cease-fire that has been signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili forces both sides to return their troops to their original locations prior to the skirmishes.  But even with an agreement in place, tensions between the United States and Russia, the two largest contributors to the ISS, remain high.

The U.S. government must now try and determine whether or not it will move forward and pay millions to the Russian government for ferrying astronauts into space, or delay the looming retirement of the space shuttle fleet a few more years.

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Hopefully It Will Clear Up
By Jedi2155 on 8/18/2008 5:09:55 AM , Rating: 2
Keeping the shuttle fleet in service for another 5 years is an expensive prospect at a average cost of around $500 million per mission in addition to aging space frames.

Anyone know how many launches the shuttles were designed for or if the 2010 retirement is due to age issue or political/cost reasons?

RE: Hopefully It Will Clear Up
By nah on 8/18/2008 8:22:20 AM , Rating: 2
Anyone know how many launches the shuttles were designed for or if the 2010 retirement is due to age issue or political/cost reasons?

The technical documents that NASA brought out gave the shuttle a MTBF of 1 in 100,000 launches--although of course this was fiction--a better estimate would be 1 in 100. Age and cost issues are always there--why use a machine which relies on processors which are not even at 3 Mhz.

RE: Hopefully It Will Clear Up
By Spivonious on 8/18/2008 9:46:42 AM , Rating: 4
why use a machine which relies on processors which are not even at 3 Mhz.

Because if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

RE: Hopefully It Will Clear Up
By nah on 8/18/2008 10:53:47 AM , Rating: 2
Because if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Where did you get that from ? Read the Feynman Appendix to the Challenger disaster--there are many problems which are listed as 'may have been solved' 'probably solved' 'partially solved' and 'not solved'--13 of these problems occurred within the first 125,000 seconds of running the engine, and 3 within the next 125,000. Independent contractors for NASA give a probability ratio of 1 or 2 per 100 for chances of an engine failure--considering the Shuttle has had around 130 ? launches and two disasters--the probability ratio of around 2 per 100 seems quite accurate--you are literally playing with lives here

RE: Hopefully It Will Clear Up
By goz314 on 8/18/2008 2:10:32 PM , Rating: 2
...and of those 2 disasters, how many were directly attributable to the failure of the SSME system?
Neither of them.

Challenger was lost because of a booster o-ring failure during launch, and Columbia was lost during re-entry due to critical damage inflicted to the thermal protection system by ET foam striking the leading edge of the left wing during launch as well.

The main engine system on the orbiters is actually very reliable and robust when compared to other launch vehicles. The shuttle could actually have one of the three engines shut down during launch and either perform a programmed abort or continue on to orbit depending on the timing of the shut down.

Now, I'm not saying that Feynman was wrong. Just that the breakdown of problems or issues he listed pertained to the probability of failure in the main engine system - of which, knock on wood, there has never been a catastrophic failure.

RE: Hopefully It Will Clear Up
By croc on 8/18/2008 6:02:52 PM , Rating: 2
The Challenger was lost primarily due to the fact that the o-rings had never been tested (Indeed, the whole shuttle had not been tested) in temperatures as low as were experienced when it launched.

In my humble opinion, the launch should have been called off for better weather conditions, cost be damned. But there was great pressure from on top to get the thing launched, primarily for the PR value.

Gee, it sure got NASA some good PR, didn't it?

RE: Hopefully It Will Clear Up
By FITCamaro on 8/18/08, Rating: 0
RE: Hopefully It Will Clear Up
By nah on 8/18/2008 10:34:23 AM , Rating: 5
Why use a human that can make mistakes?

Why travel at all ? Why not just sit at home and have a nice cup of cappucino ?

RE: Hopefully It Will Clear Up
By FITCamaro on 8/18/08, Rating: 0
RE: Hopefully It Will Clear Up
By IvanAndreevich on 8/18/2008 1:52:38 PM , Rating: 2
You know the Russian Soyuz crafts are way, way older than the shuttle, right? They will be used more if the shuttle is retired now. I don't mind, I think the Russian space program could use some foreign cash.

RE: Hopefully It Will Clear Up
By FITCamaro on 8/18/2008 2:21:57 PM , Rating: 1
Our own space program could use the cash far more. And as this article shows, why give money to a country as hostile as Russia?

RE: Hopefully It Will Clear Up
By Segerstein on 8/18/2008 5:36:31 PM , Rating: 1
Why give money to a country as hostile as Russia?

Do you think Russia is hostile? Hostile to whom? NATO???

Just imagine Alaska breaking away from the US in 1991 and now wanting to join a military alliance with China. With Mexico wanting to join the alliance as well...

Russia is going to be encircled with NATO countries that were once part of Russia.

As with South Ossetia and Abkhazia - these guys are not Georgian and have been put under Georgian SSR by Stalin (Georgian himself). They have been running their own affairs without any Georgian interference since early 1990s - there was no presence of Georgian institutions in those territories. Now Georgia attacked... Russian peacekeepers responded.

Who is being hostile here? But Russia is not going to be waiting to get the breadcrumbs, at the mercy of the West.

RE: Hopefully It Will Clear Up
By Ringold on 8/18/2008 8:33:11 PM , Rating: 3
So how's the FSB pay? Pretty good?

RE: Hopefully It Will Clear Up
By Maximalist on 8/19/2008 4:11:45 AM , Rating: 3
moron. another happy receiver of distorted media coverage.

RE: Hopefully It Will Clear Up
By Aloonatic on 8/19/2008 6:11:05 AM , Rating: 2
The only moron would be someone who didn't realise that all media is distorted, as are education systems etc etc...


Apart from the BBC of course *waves union flag*


RE: Hopefully It Will Clear Up
By FITCamaro on 8/19/2008 6:11:39 AM , Rating: 2
From my understanding of the situation, yes Georgia went into South Ossetia first. But you can be pretty sure Russia picked a fight. And I hardly think responding as they did was necessary. Russia just wanted a reason to try and take back over Georgia. They thought they could do it quickly like we could. But their troops are poorly trained. The latest equipment means nothing when people don't know how to use it.

USA attacked RUSSIA through Client State GEORGIA!
By MrJustin5 on 8/18/2008 4:21:04 PM , Rating: 2
It really, really bothers me that I see a "high brow" website like this, repeating the line "Russia attacked Georgia" just because repeaters like CNN, FOX, MSNBC and the like all the say the same thing, too.

If you watch REAL international news (not multinational news from the united states/britain/EU, etc) you will see whats been happening.

GEORGIA sneak attacked Russia and South Ossetia in the middle of the night. Bombing cities of 70,000 people.. families, women and children. Its GEORGIA thats been guilty of genocide.

American troops, etc have all been found there. HUGE caches of american weapons has been found there. Russian troops have arrested US military over there the day it started.

Look, you guys, especially here at anandtech should not be parrots. Stop repeating what you see off of mainstream news, which is all proven lies (they even contradict themselves!).

THE PENTAGON FUNDED, TRAINED AND SUPPLIES THE ARMS for Georgia to attack! How do you think a small, poor country can afford to expand their military 30x larger in the past year or so?

Pentagon money!


U.S. Attacks Russia Through Client State Georgia

Good day, Gentlemen. I hope some of you woke up to the fact that we are lied to constantly on the news.

x Justin

By Zoomer on 8/18/2008 8:49:02 PM , Rating: 2
Now that was some very well known and reliable sources.

By MrJustin5 on 8/19/2008 4:55:40 AM , Rating: 3
Here is the SOURCE of the Article by Alex Jones, Paul & Steven Watson.

Its too bad and quite shameful that just because Coke, Pfizer, Microsoft and Nike don't advertise with these websites (directly) that you say "oh, well, they're not well known". Implying that it is garbage. is a hugely popular site. Check it out on Alexa!

I suppose unless you want to read it from a repeating puppet clown like Bill O'Riely you wont accept it. Which is shameful as most americans are brainwashed to such a degree that they dont accept anything outside of flashy graphics and multi-billion dollar corporations backing them up.

Now with G.E. owned by the government and GE owning NBC & MSNBC and all these multi-billion corporations dumping in money to finance (aka: "Sponsor") these networks and with the united states government itself dumping in so much money, you don't think they expect "favorable" news broadcasts?

Embedded with Bush: fake news reports and phony journalism

Whittier Daily News | March 20, 2005,1413,20...

CALLING all conservatives. Yo, libertarians. Also, wing-nuts, believers in black-helicopter conspiracies and mouth-foaming denouncers of government and all its works - yoo-hoo. Where are these people when you need them?

THEY are making us pay to have ourselves brainwashed. All good conspiracy theories begin with "they' - and in this case, it's the usual suspect of the right wing: the ever-evil federal government. Rush Limbaugh, get on this case. Stealth propaganda now goes by the beguiling moniker "pre-packaged news.' And our government, the one supposedly run by us, is using our money to secretly brainwash us. Is this gross, or what?

No joke, this is seriously creepy: The U.S. government is in the covert propaganda business, and it's not aiming this stuff at potential terrorists, it's aiming it right square at your forehead.

The New York Times did a huge Sunday take-out on the practice of "pre-packaged news' by government agencies. "The government's news-making apparatus has produced a quiet drumbeat of broadcasts describing a vigilant and compassionate administration.'

The Bush administration did not invent this practice - it's an adaptation of a corporate public relations ploy. P.R. firms make what look like normal news segments designed to fit into regular news broadcasts, but they are actually sales pitches.

You have probably wondered, "This is news?' when you see a "report' along the lines of: "This is Joe Doaks reporting from the World Headache Remedy Expo on a terrific new advance in headache cures that has everyone here really excited. The product that has the whole Expo buzzing is Megaconglomerate's new remedy No Brain, No Pain. It completely wipes out your headache by wiping out your entire brain, so that you become so stupid you believe this segment is actual news.' Or words to that effect.

We're not talking about the old public service announcements that used to hand out useful info clearly attributed to the government: "Uncle Sam wants you to stop smoking,' or, "It's a good idea to get your child a polio vaccination: This message brought to you by the Health Department.'

It's bad enough that corporate shills burn up journalistic credibility with this cheap trick, but the government has produced hundreds of these fake news segments. The Clinton administration started this vile practice, and the Bush administration has doubled it, spending $254 million on public relations contracts in its first term, twice what the last Clinton administration spent. I suspect it is part and parcel of Karl Rove's mania for "message control.'

So how did something this sleazy become so common? Money. The Times reports: "It is ... a world where all participants benefit. Local affiliates are spared the expense of digging up original material. Public relations firms secure government contracts worth millions of dollars. The major networks, which help distribute the releases, collect fees from the government agencies that produce segments and the affiliates that show them. The administration, meanwhile, gets out an unfiltered message, delivered in the guise of traditional reporting.'

The only patsy in the set-up is you, sitting there thinking you're seeing something real AND paying for the fake news with your taxes.

Of course, the television stations that play along with this deserve all the opprobrium that can be heaped on them. Thanks for corrupting journalism, guys - thanks for burning everyone's credibility.

The Radio-Television News Directors Association code of ethics says: "Clearly disclose the origin of information, and label all material provided by outsiders.' But many stations don't, even those in large city markets with strong professional reputations. More stations are going to more news shows because they're cheaper to produce - but they are not adding reporters or editors, they're just stretching their staffs thinner and thinner. This is happening across the board in the news business. It's about money.

Meanwhile, back at government propaganda central, the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, has held that the government- produced "news' segments may constitute "covert propaganda.' Glad somebody noticed.

But, the Times reports, just last Friday the Justice Department and the Office of Management and Budget circulated a memo telling all the executive branch agencies to ignore the GAO. The memo says the GAO failed to distinguish between covert propaganda and "purely informational' news segments.

Well, gee, I guess it's purely informational when you see a joyful Iraqi-American, in a segment on the reaction to the fall of Baghdad, saying: "Thank you, Bush. Thank you, U.S.A.'

Another segment described in the Times reports "another success' in the Bush administration's "drive to strengthen aviation security.' The fake reporter calls it "one of the most remarkable campaigns in aviation history.' That would be informational if it weren't misinformational, instead. As the Times reported the next day in an unrelated story, the government's aviation security program is, in fact, riddled with dangerous loopholes.

If I were a hawk-eyed conservative looking for waste, fraud and abuse in government spending, I'd go after this one faster than small-town gossip.

By FITCamaro on 8/19/2008 6:16:13 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah the New York Times....reliable source of conservative media there.....

Yes the US backs Georgia and supplies it with training and equipment. How is this any different than Russia providing the same thing for places like Iran? That doesn't mean that since Georgia attacked Russia, hence forth the US attacked Russia.

By HeavyB on 8/19/2008 5:41:09 PM , Rating: 2
Judith Miller says hello.

By MrJustin5 on 8/19/2008 5:00:06 AM , Rating: 1
Did you even BOTHER to read my article?

MSNBC: Georgia and the Pentagon cooperate closely

Moreover, the very “Rose Revolution” that brought the Harvard trained pro-US Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvilli to power in 2003 was wholly aided and abetted by the Central Intelligence Agency.

In addition, the pro-Israeli news source DebkaFile reports that Georgian infantry units were “aided by Israeli military advisors” in capturing the capital of breakaway South Ossetia, Tskhinvali earlier today

DebkaFile elaborates on the true geopolitical significance behind today’s events.

DEBKAfile’s geopolitical experts note that on the surface level, the Russians are backing the separatists of S. Ossetia and neighboring Abkhazia as payback for the strengthening of American influence in tiny Georgia and its 4.5 million inhabitants. However, more immediately, the conflict has been sparked by the race for control over the pipelines carrying oil and gas out of the Caspian region.

The Russians may just bear with the pro-US Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili’s ambition to bring his country into NATO. But they draw a heavy line against his plans and those of Western oil companies, including Israeli firms, to route the oil routes from Azerbaijan and the gas lines from Turkmenistan, which transit Georgia, through Turkey instead of hooking them up to Russian pipelines.

Jerusalem owns a strong interest in Caspian oil and gas pipelines reach the Turkish terminal port of Ceyhan, rather than the Russian network. Intense negotiations are afoot between Israel Turkey, Georgia, Turkmenistan and Azarbaijan for pipelines to reach Turkey and thence to Israel’s oil terminal at Ashkelon and on to its Red Sea port of Eilat. From there, supertankers can carry the gas and oil to the Far East through the Indian Ocean.

Former Treasury Secretary under Ronald Reagan, Paul Craig Roberts, told The Alex Jones Show today that the entire scenario smacked of a maneuver on behalf of the Neo-Con faction controlling the White House, led by Dick Cheney. Roberts said the date was precisely picked due to the distraction of the Olympics and Bush being out of the country.

Both Condoleezza Rice and John McCain have today demanded Russia withdraw its forces from Georgia immediately.

Meanwhile, the U.S. media networks are seemingly more interested in the complete non-story of John Edwards having an affair, while a conflict that could have devastating and thunderous geopolitical consequences fizzes on the verge of explosion.

As of early Friday evening, Edwards’ extramarital shenanigans were dominating CNN and Fox News, while Drudge also afforded the story more prominence that the situation in Georgia, which was also deemed less important than the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

One of our readers contributed the following, which explains in detail exactly what is unfolding.

Most folks on here can not or will not look up the history or facts for themselves …morons..

Those who dont learn from history are destined to repeat it..

In 1992, Georgia was forced to accept a ceasefire to avoid a large scale confrontation with Russia. The government of Georgia and South Ossetian separatists reached an agreement to avoid the use of force against one another, and Georgia pledged not to impose sanctions against South Ossetia.

A peacekeeping force of Ossetians, Russians and Georgians was established at the time. And late in 1992 the OSCE set up a mission in Georgia to monitor the peacekeeping operation.

From then, until mid-2004, South Ossetia was generally peaceful.

In June 2004, tensions began to rise as the Georgian authorities strengthened their efforts against smuggling in the region. Hostage takings, shootouts and occasional bombings left dozens dead and wounded.

A ceasefire deal was reached on August 13, but it has been repeatedly violated.

Tensions in the region soared in 2008 and outbreaks of violence became increasingly frequent in the border area.

Georgia said it was an internal affair as the breakaway republic had never been recognized internationally.

The Georgian side repeatedly insisted the conflict could be resolved without outside interference.

However, early on August 8 Georgia launched a massive military offensive to take control of the republic.

A quote from another Reuters

At an emergency session of the United Nations on Thursday night, Russia failed to push through a statement that would have called on both sides to stop fighting immediately.
Council diplomats said a phrase calling on all sides to “renounce the use of force” had been unacceptable to the Georgians, backed by the United States and the Europeans.

UK Times online:
Mr Saakashvili, a US-educated lawyer who succeeded Eduard Shevardnadze in 2004 and has since tried to align it more closely to the West, compared the Russian action with the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and appealed to the outside world to intervene.

“Russia is fighting a war with us in our own territory,” he told CNN as Russian armor rolled into South Ossetia.

“It’s not about Georgia anymore. It’s about America, its values: we are a freedom-loving nation that is right now under attack.

By Aloonatic on 8/19/2008 5:57:25 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks for all the great links and long comments, if I had the time I would read them, perhaps...

Just a few quick questions;

When did Georgian (or USA troops for that matter) set foot on Internationally recognised Sovereign Russian soil and attack Russian forces?

Are you denying that Russia has well overstepped the mark?

Do you thin that bombing ports and sinking ships is justified in the defence of land locked South Ossetia?

How can a country attack it's own land anyway?

Do you think that anyone outside of Russia buys the "peace keeper" talk that Russia keeps coming out with?

The one good things to some out of this is that I have found "Russia Today" on satellite TV which looks as if it should really be join FOX News in the entertainment section of the SKY program guide.


U.S. Attacks Russia Through Client State Georgia

Try Googling

"fake moon landing" and see what you get?

The truth?


By FITCamaro on 8/19/2008 6:19:47 AM , Rating: 2
And Russian money and equipment funds many other countries. Does this mean if they attack someone else that its Russia attacking them? Or what if one attacks another? Is Russia then attacking itself?

The US provides training and equipment to many nations who would otherwise have no ability to defend themselves. That hardly makes them satellites of the US.

We want an ally in the region. Nothing more.

European Space Program
By Aloonatic on 8/18/2008 5:39:51 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe the US astronauts could catch a lift from the EU?

Maybe not.

It still amazes me how we seem to ignore space all together in this country (UK). Sure, we make a few satellites and such, but we do seem to rely on the European Space Program, which in turn seems to be reliant on either the Russian or US programs for anything involving getting people into space.

Perhaps, if the Olympics go well the Chinese will be willing to help out?

RE: European Space Program
By martinrichards23 on 8/18/2008 6:21:52 AM , Rating: 2
ESA is unrelated to the EU.

UK makes lots of satellites.

The ESA is the UKs space program, of it relies on it.

ESA is actually the market leader in commercial launches.

RE: European Space Program
By Aloonatic on 8/18/2008 7:03:41 AM , Rating: 2
Yep, the UK makes satellites (which I mentioned) but ignores the international space station program though and does next to nothing on the manned front.

And that's what this article and my comment was talking about, manned launches. There's not much happening there from the Europeans, excluding Richard Branson's efforts that is.

I can see it now....
By Fnoob on 8/18/2008 9:28:09 AM , Rating: 2
[Near future] Both the Russians and the US have teams at docked at the ISS. Despite their own better judgements, they receive orders from home not to play nice with each other, and for the crews to take their toys and return to the "Leonov" and "Discovery" respectively.


RE: I can see it now....
By Shuswapper on 8/18/2008 10:56:10 PM , Rating: 2

RE: I can see it now....
By niaaa on 8/19/2008 10:48:57 AM , Rating: 2
someone did read "2010" :)

how about we wrap up the iraq war early
By kattanna on 8/18/2008 11:36:30 AM , Rating: 1
and spend some of that $12 billion a month we spend on it now instead on extending the shuttle a little bit and speeding up the orion?

By sgw2n5 on 8/18/2008 11:44:03 AM , Rating: 1

By goz314 on 8/18/2008 2:27:46 PM , Rating: 2
The Iraq war is largely not paid for, but rather the money to fund it has been borrowed. Sadly, the taxpayers will be burdended with the costs of paying that gargantuan debt for some time to come, and it will severely strap the available money for other governement projects during that time.

Now if Congress had any balls whatsoever, they would pay for the war by cutting back the Pentagon's future budget allocations accordingly. That would at least free up some money to either fast track the Constellation program or sustain the shuttles for a couple of more years to fill the gap.

As Usual...
By Amiga500 on 8/18/2008 5:06:34 AM , Rating: 3
The politicians in various countries scheme and plan their devious little ideas...

and none of us peasants win.

Merci, Boris
By US56 on 8/18/2008 8:55:23 PM , Rating: 2
The situation would have been much worse in another year or two. Thankfully, Boris & friends showed their hand and the situation is not unrecoverable. It never made sense for the U.S. to have no manned space capability for more than five years between the planned retirement of the Shuttle system and the initial Orion launch. The retirement of the Shuttle was strictly a budgetary decision to shift funding to Ares/Orion without a politically difficult increase in the overall level of NASA funding during a period of heavy deficit spending in time of war very reminiscent of the premature ending of the Apollo Program. The surviving orbiters are the newer ones and all have been upgraded to the latest spec or close to it. The original design service life of the Shuttle system was 20 years. That was based on a much higher launch rate so presumably the number of launch cycles for all orbiters is well below the original projected service life. The presumption always was that a replacement for the Shuttle, generally assumed to be an SSTO vehicle and not a great leap backward, would be developed concurrently with Shuttle operations and there would have been no gap in manned space capability. Obviously, that didn't happen despite some interesting efforts. The "space gap" was a result of a quickly devised plan by the former NASA administrator to provide something to address "the vision thing" during the last presidential campaign cycle. Given the new reality, it seems unlikely that plan will prevail. As for the future of the ISS, aka Goldinmir, that will be interesting.

Holy COW!!!
By Machinegear on 8/18/2008 11:30:25 AM , Rating: 1


"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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