America Chooses to Rely On Russians to Fly Us to the Moon
Watching General Charles Bolden, the Executive director of the National Space and Aeronautics Administration, calmly explain to the press how NASA is getting out of the manned space travel business after they retire the space shuttle, was a surreal experience. He explained that during a five year interim, in which space travel will become a private civilian industry, America will rely on the Russians to ferry our Astronauts back and forth to the International Space Station. As one who grew up just down the road from Cape Canaveral, where the American space program’s launch pads were located, and remember well the fear and anxieties that haunted the collective American psyche when the Russians successfully launched Sputnik, the first man made satellite to orbit the earth, the whole thing seemed bizarre, fantastic, Alice In wonderland kinda stuff.
It is further evidence that a paradigm shift has occurred in the relations between the US and Russia. Having learned their lesson in the last World war, the nuclear armed super-powers have disciplined themselves by virtue of the MAD doctrine – Mutually Assured Destruction. Hence they chose diplomacy over war in resolving the conflicts that will inevitably arise so long as leaders privilege their national interests over international cooperation.
No single act signals this paradigm shift more dramatically than this decision by the US government. It was not that long ago that American and Russian school children were being drilled on what to do in case of a nuclear attack from the other side. This fear was the main reason for the sense of panic that overtook the American National Security establishment when they heard the undeniable beeps from Sputnik orbiting the earth at 18, 000 miles an hour.
As a wise man once observed: Where an artist may look down from a hill and see a beautiful landscape to paint, a general will look down from the same hill and see a ideal place to position a battery of artillery. Hence while scientists marveled at the research possibilities that the penetration of outer space provided, the Defense Department agonized over the military advantages of the orbiting satellite, which could not only spy on any part of the US and transmit the information to Russian intelligence experts. That data could then be used to launch a nuclear missile from the satellite and hit any target on earth!
From the perspective of the generals this was a game breaker, a doomsday machine in the hands of their mortal enemy. This shocking development led to the rapid passage of the National Defense Act, which sought out the most gifted scientific minds among American youths regardless of their race or class, paid for a first class education for them, and they put a man on the moon!
Major General Charles Bolden
The First African American to Head NASA
President Obama is also shooting for a game changing paradigm in his new policies on space travel: first by introducing a new era of international cooperation in space, which heretofore has been a backwards race to militarize space led by the US, and secondly he wants to create a civilian space travel industry which will one day make space travel routine and sprout entire new technologies that will metamorphose into new industries that will enhance life on earth. It is no wonder that both General Bolden, an ex—Astronaut and the head of the Russian space agency are on cloud nine. But for those whose vision of the Russians was forged in the middle of the twentieth century, it seems as if the world turned upside down.
The International Space Station
The Ultimate Symbol Of Cooperation Between Earthlings
Harlem, New York