Shortsighting the Future   Leave a comment

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Recently I made a post about diplomacy in space, wherein American astronauts and Russian Cosmonauts worked together through the years, regardless of events that transpired between Washington and Moscow.  It seemed like a good thing.  Offering scientists to work together peacefully as they cooperatively build such innovations as the International Space Station is unprecedented, if you think about it.  And I say unprecedented because despite all the fireworks between our two nations, our shared space mission has continued throughout a number of years.   The only explosions have come from transports launching space shuttles heavenward.

That’s coming to a close now.  Thanks to whatever’s coming down in the Crimea crisis, pretty much all cooperative efforts between Russia and the United States is ending, or, more specifically, between NASA and Moscow.  There’s a point to be had, for sure, as in there’s a right way to approach a situation (through diplomacy) and a wrong way (through invasion, or threats thereof).  Does the United States really want to have representatives from Russia’s space initiatives mingling with its American counterparts?  On one hand, they are there for the science.  On the other, their intentions might lie elsewhere.

Still, we’ve come this far, and if there’s mutual trust built between everyone who’s shared the same common goal, then what’s to quibble about?  It’s my belief that by cutting short all cooperation, we are only stopping ourselves from achieving greater things.  I mean, who has all the lock on innovation anyway?  Isn’t it possible for everyone to work together?  Or, at least, leave the scientists to be scientists and the politicians to be, well, politicians.

Think of not only what could come of the United States and Russia’s shared goals, but other nations as well.  Already, we have the ISS with any number of crew members achieving the impossible in space.  There’s all sorts of people participating in all sorts of experiments, so that those of us stuck here on earth might find some benefit to their discoveries sooner or later.

And although the US and Russia have the longest tradition, other nations are catching up to both of us.  Take, for example, India.  They’ve got some of the world’s best engineers that are trained and paid at a fraction of the cost as their Russian and American counterparts.  What’s to stop them from overtaking us and them?  China’s going full tilt ahead, as is Brazil.  There’s many more in the wings in Europe and elsewhere.  Pretty soon, we’re all going to be yesterday’s news as the up-and-coming nations put squabbles aside and perhaps partner to do a little crowing of their own regarding space achievements.

It’s not hard to conceive that these relative space newbies will find their own raison d’être to work with private enterprises to generate vast profits over what can be mined from the lunar surface and lassoing asteroids for minerals.  They’ll find the way at lower costs and higher efficiencies.  Why worry and wonder what the United States and Russia’s going to do when India, China, Brazil and the rest have their own futures to carve?

Only my opinion, folks.  But truly, there’s so much more to be gained from cooperation than not.  Need an example?  The shared history speaks for itself.

Just consider the crew of the original Star Trek.

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