Yea, a bit of a stretch, but due to an odd convergence of facts there is trouble with the International Space Station due to Russia’s recent foray into Georgia.
The US Space Shuttle is due to be retired in 2010, with manned flights to the space station being handed over to Russian Soyuz rockets. But the only way that can function is an exemption to the Iranian non-proliferation act (normally Russia would be guilty of violating that but the US grants an exemption for space operations). The current exemption expires in 2011 and chances of it being renewed are ‘dead on arrival’ according to senior aides on Capitol Hill. As our only way on board is the Russian ships until the Shuttle’s replacement is online, we’re looking at a period of limited access to the station until this gets sorted out.
So Senator Bill Nelson is starting to ask some questions–what are we going to do next? Nelson was in Afghanistan last week when the fighting broke out and his flight home had to be re-routed after Russia denied diplomatic overflight rights to his aircraft.]]>