Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Putin in Space

“The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not.”


– Vladimir Putin, September 11, 2013, The New York Times

President Putin should have listened to himself and not invaded Ukraine. After repeated pressure from the rest of the world, except for Syria's Assad and North Korea's Kim Jong-on, Putin annexed Crimea and may keep going. In a bizarre chest-thumping speech on Tuesday, he touted Russian might. In addition to essentially outlawing homosexuality and journalism, censoring the Internet, Putin's Russia put up statues of Stalin. As Angela Merkel told President Obama, Putin seems to be "in another world." What does that mean for Western astronauts who are currently high above our world, and depend on Russia to come home?

As humans on Earth try to resolve human rights crises, scientific research in Space must be, forgive the pun, above being used as a bargaining chip. As Kremlin observers like to point out, Putin's behavior is consistent. And that behavior is consistently crazy. Russia provides the West's only means of transportation to and from the International Space Station, "a $100-billion orbiting science laboratory." Can we trust Putin to continue to honor his agreement with NASA?

Matt Gurney at The National Post is optimistic:

The Russians have reasons to not rock this boat either, of course. Money being a big one: NASA signed a contract worth three-quarters of a billion dollars with Russia to handle all the transportation to and from the station, as well as provide rescue capabilities should they ever be needed, through to 2016. This represents a sizable chunk of Russia’s space exploration budget, which, at US$5.6-billion a year, is far from what it was during the heyday of the Soviet space program. And the Russians would think twice before doing anything that would make anyone wary of partnering with them on future space ventures. Trust, once lost, is hard to replace.

So our already dwindling space program may be safe. After Putin bit off Crimea, which has a diverse population that's less than 60% Russian, the West must enact harsher sanctions than the “warning shot” fired earlier this week. It's not the potential threat to our scientific research that's preventing them. “Money talks, value walks,” one EU insider told BuzzFeed, citing fear of losing Russian business for why Europe offered sanctions that were little more than a slap on the wrist.

In our increasingly interdependent global economy, sanctions may indeed be a complicated issue, but when holding a brazen despot accountable they shouldn't be. What should absolutely be off-the-table is a country's space program, and luckily Putin is too vain to deny his country the glory and the resources Russia needs (from us) to remain in Space.

Image credit: AZRainman

LIVE ON MONDAY | "Lights, camera, activism!" with Judith Light

Join multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light live on Big Think at 2 pm ET on Monday.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo

Keep reading Show less

Scientists see 'rarest event ever recorded' in search for dark matter

The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.

Image source: Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
  • The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
  • The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
Keep reading Show less

Space travel could create language unintelligible to people on Earth

A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.

Cylindrical space colony.

Credit: NASA Ames Research Center.
Surprising Science
  • A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
  • Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
  • This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".
Keep reading Show less

Your emotions are the new hot commodity — and there’s an app for that

Many of the most popular apps are about self-improvement.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Personal Growth

Emotions are the newest hot commodity, and we can't get enough.

Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast