Sunday, July 3, 2011

Is Russia gaining edge in space race as US shuttle bows out

Nasa administrator Charlie Bolden says that after the retirement of the Space Shuttle the US will still be the leader in space exploration. But the perception seems to be changing in the rest of the world. The following is from Sin Chew Daily, a leading Chinese language newspaper in Malaysia.

Russia gains edge in space race as US shuttle bows out

As the United States winds down its shuttle programme in a symbolic twist in a long-running space rivalry, Russia will gain complete control of access to the International Space Station. 
The Russian space agency plays down any triumphalism, but US astronauts will remain dependent on Russia for access to the ISS at least until 2015 and will have to pay for seats in its Soyuz space capsules. 
"We cannot say that we have won the space race, but simply that we have reached the end of a certain stage," the deputy head of the Russian space agency, Vitaly Davydov, said in an interview. 
On July 8, four US astronauts will board the Atlantis shuttle for its last flight, wrapping up a three-decade-long programme in which the United States took turns to ferry supplies and crews to the ISS with Russia's Proton and Soyuz rockets. 
Henceforth, Washington will have to pay $51 million per seat in Russia's space capsules until a new crew vehicle can be built by private companies, which US space agency NASA has estimated could be between 2015 and 2020.