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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Russians Object to SpaceX Docking to ISS

Russia will not permit the first U.S. commercial spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) unless its safety is fully tested, a high-ranking Russian space official told RIA Novosti in Moscow on Friday, April 22, 2011.

The statement comes in the wake of the spacecraft's designer, U.S. company SpaceX, request to NASA for authorization to dock with the ISS in December, 2011. NASA recently announced a multi-million dollar commercial crew development contract with the firm, a leading contender to build commercial launch capacity for human astronauts within three years.

"We will not issue docking permission unless the necessary level of reliability and safety [of the spacecraft] is proven. So far we have no proof that those spacecraft duly comply with the accepted norms of spaceflight safety," said Alexei Krasnov, who heads the manned spaceflight department of Russia's space agency Roscosmos.

According to the SpaceX 2011's launch schedule, two Dragon flights are to take place in 2011. During the first flight, the spacecraft will perform the flyby of the ISS, approaching to within 10 km from the station. During the second mission, it is hoped to dock with the ISS.

The reaction in the Congress will be most interesting over the next few weeks as conservatives come to realize that the Russians are saying "Neyt" to American private industry as the international space station.

2 comments:

Terence Clark said...

This post leaves out a very significant comment by the same person who made the 'not yet' statement. Krasnov indicated that private space providers launching to ISS was not just possible, but inevitable, but "in good time". Never did he say "Nyet" private hops to the ISS. He merely asked for some assurances before they flights began.

JackKennedy said...

I do not believe that the Russians would seek to stop the commercial flights to the ISS. But the question will become what is "in good time?" I suppose it is the lawyer in me recalling the term "with all deliberate speed."

Hope you are well.