Reoccurring Cold War in Space

The space race in the twenty first century is a hot topic for those who study both in the fields of politics and science. Many people are excited for the advancement in technology in the Asian countries, who are in a space race of their own. China seemed to be defeating India in every way, until November, when India launched their own probe. Just recently, it was confirmed that the probe was incredibly close to entering Mars’ orbit- about 48 hours away.

But the space race doesn’t end there. It seems that old rivals are at it again: Russia and the United States.

We’ve all heard nearly every story about the hostilities between the United States and Russia. Between Crimea and the Ukraine, we’re generally concerned about what happens on Earth, due to the fact that we live here, and because space doesn’t usually cross our minds too often.

In 2011, the space shuttle used by the United States was retired. Ever since then, the United States has relied on Russia while sending astronauts to the International Space Station. While this method has proved to be reliable, it also is incredibly costly for the United States at about $70 million per seat. With this cost in mind, NASA made contracts with two companies- Boeing and SpaceX in order to create a shuttle that can bring astronauts back and forth between the space station and Earth. These companies were also selected for their ability to create technology that can survive deep space projects, launching the United States ahead in the space race. Optimistically, the shuttle will launch astronauts to the space station in 2017.

The United State’s decision to hire a company to build a new shuttle could not have come at a more convenient time. Back in April, the deputy prime minister tweeted:

“After analysing the sanctions against our space industry I suggest the US delivers its astronauts to the ISS with a trampoline.” -Dmitry Rogozin

The decision was made after several different run ins with Russia, such as the hostilities in Crimea and Ukraine. It was also made after the United States angered Russia with sanctions against the Russian space program and those who run the program. This decision also means that NASA no longer has to fund the Russian space program.

Charles Bolden, the present-day administrator of NASA, makes remarks on his blog that are similar to those made during the Cold War era. He reiterates the importance of the leadership of the United States in space technology and in space exploration. He also states that the contracts with the two companies to create new spacecraft is the best for the nation in order to cut ties with Russia and their space program.

Keeping all of this in mind, it’s hard to not compare this to the Cold War space race between the USSR and the US. And when remembering the course of history, the big question is: how long until Russia retaliates with policies or technologies of their own, whether it is on Earth or in space?


7 thoughts on “Reoccurring Cold War in Space

  1. Pretty incredible that this is happening again, but also cannot say I am surprised. I had no idea that the US was utilizing Russia’s space program either, which is quite alarming as most of the public probably has no idea as well. It is seemingly inevitable that Russia will attempt to come back and “one up” the US again too, simply because history repeats itself, and because both countries are equally as aggressive against each other in my opinion. When will it end…


  2. This was inevitable, considering that even when the Soviet Union collapsed the rivalry between the West and Russia has never disappeared. I also assumed there would be more of a race between the U.S. and China within the coming decades but the rivalry against Russia is still very strong. Considering the sanctions and tension between the U.S. and Russia it makes complete sense why we wouldn’t be able to just use their space program anymore. This could prove beneficial to some people who want to relive the glory days of the Cold War when the competition between these two regions caused a lot of innovations and nationalist pride. Who knows, this may lead to more innovation, or may just lead into something much more sinister as time progresses and the tensions increase.


  3. You did a great job outlining the similarities of U.S. history with Russia and our present day relations with Russia. I agree with the head of NASA, we need to cut all ties with Russia’s space program to send a message that we can have a program more advanced than theirs’. More importantly, we need to send a message saying if you cross the line (Ukraine crisis and any other POSSIBLE actions you could be accountable for) then the U.S. is willing to cut ties with Russia and ignore peace.


  4. we absolutely need to stop piggy-backing other nation’s programs and once again fire up our rockets! it is an intense time for another space technological race but this could potentially boost our technology ahead years through strict focus. why be left behind in this race when so much could be at stake?


  5. or positive way we can say that this rivalry is contributing on developing the technology, but the tension is getting higher.. there are some facts that I did not know in this post, I did learn that the Russia and United States always had competition but the specific way how they react to each other is quite a surprise


  6. This is a very interesting post. One positive thing that could come out of this is the growth of the space industry. That could lead to some really cool technological innovations and scientific discoveries. Could a moon base be in the future of the United States?


  7. This is an interesting topic that Russia and the U.S are showing the historically similar phase with now in different stage, space. As other students have commented, this sort of competition between two countries can have positive effects on technology, but will be developed into a sensitive issue when politics engaged.


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