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Old August 15 2008, 08:33 AM   #9
Re: Russian/Georgia conflict affect ISS operations?

No manned capability there, but that's mainly because there's never been the incentive (read: the funds) to develop it beyond numerous paper planes. The actual technology is certainly there, and the US could pay for the R&D and get a real European space capsule going in, say, five years.

But that'd still be too late. And the US could just as well spend that extra dough in turbocharging the Orion program for an earlier than planned (and probably a tad less reliable) LEO crew swap capacity.

If this really becomes a pressing matter of national pride, the shuttle could of course also be kept going indefinitely. Stopping work on some aspects of Orion and returning to STS commitments could easily result in shuttle capacity through 2025 or so.

The cheapest alternative in case of a really severe political crisis would probably be to use ISS for ASAT target practice, though. Whether with cosmonauts onboard or not, would depend on the exact flavor of the political pile of manure in question.

Timo Saloniemi
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