Russians: ‘It’s Our Soyuz Epoch, Now’

The end of the space shuttle program, (thanks to B. Hussein) has prompted the Russkies to let out one big gloat.

A half-century of America sending Americans into space came to an end Thursday — and the era of the Soyuz and the cosmonaut began, Russia trumpeted Thursday.

After decades of inspiring millions around the globe, space shuttle Atlantis made a final, picture-perfect touchdown at Kennedy Space Center at 5:56 a.m. (EST) Thursday morning — the final rest for the last flight of the mind-bogglingly massive science achievement.

……Russia’s space agency — a long-time partner in space flight and begrudging bedfellow for NASA — had to note the historic accomplishments of the U.S. space program, writing in a statement that “mankind acknowledges the role of American spaceships in exploring the cosmos.”

So long — and thanks for the help, the statement seemed to read.

“From today, the era of the Soyuz has started in manned space flight, the era of reliability,” the Russian space agency Roskosmos said.

With the last flight of NASA’s storied space shuttles, the only way for America to send men and supplies into space is Russia’s Soyuz craft — a far simpler, less glamorous rocket that has changed little since Yuri Gagarin became the first man in orbit in 1961.

And far less safe, given the Russian habit of building shoddy products.

(The Russians) lashed out at what (they) said were foreign media descriptions of the Soyuz as old spaceships, saying the design was constantly being modernized.

But can these “modernization” efforts keep pace with the next-generation fleets even now being built by American companies?

Several private companies are currently vying to build the new spacecraft NASA will need for future cargo runs and astronaut ferry flights, with NASA paying out tens of million to help fuel their efforts — part of the Commercial Crew Development 2 (CCDev2) program. The front-runner hopes to make its first shipment of supplies as early as the end of this year.

The Russians also announced that the International Space Station, which was built and maintained with billions of U.S. dollars, will be scuttled and sunk into the Pacific in 2020.

Without the assistance and expertise of advanced American technology, it’s doubtful the Russians will succeed at the level demonstrated by the United States over the last four decades.

Good luck with that “epoch”, Ivan. You’ll need it.


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