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U.S.-Russian Cosmic Cooperation Unhampered

Published: March 6, 2014 (Issue # 1800)



  • ILS is responsible for marketing and contracting for all commercial Proton rocket launch services worldwide.
    Photo: Intelsatgeneral.com

Despite a looming collapse of U.S.-Russian bilateral relations, the standoff over Ukraine has not had any impact on commercial space ventures and intergovernmental space projects, such as the International Space Station, or ISS.

"We do not expect the current Russia-Ukraine situation to have any impact on our civil space cooperation with Russia, including our partnership on the International Space Station program," said Sean Fuller, NASA's director in Russia for human spaceflight.

NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency, or Roscosmos, are no strangers to the political volatility between their countries. "A professional, beneficial, and collegial working relationship [has been maintained] through the various ups and downs of the broader U.S.-Russia relationship and we expect that to continue throughout the life of the ISS program and beyond," Fuller said.

Related: Russian Space Agency Getting Into the Swing of Social Media

Dr. Scott Pace, Director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University's Elliot School of International Relations, said that although "a full range of options are being considered by the U.S. government" in response to the Russian incursion in Crimea, "I do not envision at this stage any impacts to the International Space Station or use of Soyuz vehicles for crew rotation."

"It seems that there are many other options for the U.S. and other countries to express opposition to Russian actions," he said, although "If pressed to speculate, I believe it would take a formal break in diplomatic relations to trigger a re-evaluation of ISS cooperation," Pace said.

It is business as usual, said Karen Monaghan, spokeswoman for International Launch Services, or ILS, which is a former joint venture between Lockheed Martin and the Khrunichev State Research and Space Production Center, but is now majority owned by Khrunichev, and based in Reston, Virginia.

ILS holds the exclusive rights to hawk the Proton-M launch vehicle on the global satellite market. Although Proton is a tried-and-true Russian design, ILS's parent company, Khrunichev has "a limited number of Proton [component] suppliers in Ukraine," said ILS spokeswoman Karen Monaghan.

"However, at this point we do not anticipate any impact on Proton launch vehicle production. Khrunichev has ample hardware to support our launches and Proton's steady launch tempo will continue as planned," she added.

Two of these launches are contracts to boost Gazprom Space Systems communications satellites in to orbit: the Yamal 401 and Yamal 601. Monaghan said that Gazprom Space Systems is one of their biggest partners and "a perfect match" for their services.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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