[FPSPACE] NYT: Is the Space Station Necessary?
zirconic1 at earthlink.net
Mon Aug 15 00:42:42 EDT 2005
From: Zeger Nuyens <dokter.nuyens at pandora.be>
Sent: Aug 14, 2005 3:52 PM
>> And the answer is that they would be truly deeply severely insulted.
> If they did not insist upon this, then it would be an open invitation
> for the Americans to kick them around. If Italy wavers just a little
> bit, then the Italian stuff gets cut from the manifest. If France
> wavers a little bit, ditto.
>I don't know about my goverment or ESA, but I would be deeply insulted.
I would think Americans are untrustworthy and that it is really no use
trying to do business with them.
Except for the fact that they are the biggest player in the game. There are certain things that you cannot do unless you partner with the Americans. (More in a minute)
>Maybe ESA is already looking for another partner just in case.
ESA has clearly forged alliances with Russia and China (on Galileo) to decrease their reliance upon the United States. However, in both cases they face limitations. The problem with the Russians is that the Russians are not interested in being partners; they essentially want to be contractors. They want to get paid for their work. The problem with China is that, well, they are China--a country with a pretty rotten human rights record and a government that the Europeans do not really trust (which is why the EU has given China less participation in Galileo than China wants.).
>Or maybe the NYT article is just the first to get the general public used to abandoning the Station along with the
No. The New York Times editorial (not article) is just the opinion of a couple of editors at a snooty, liberal, well-written and highly respected newspaper in New York City. They do not reflect government policy, and in fact they do not _influence_ government policy. (As I saw somebody point out recently, it used to be that newspaper editorials were the primary place that people turned to for political opinions. Now they have a million other sources and nobody cares what editorials say--if they ever did.) Plus, it is August, and nobody with any power in the US government is reading the newspaper or even in their office. They're all in their home districts raising money, or on vacation (trust me--I work in Washington. The place empties out in August. And considering that it is 96 degrees and HUMID right now, you cannot blame them).
However, let me make another point. Here is a clip from Allen Thomson's post:
> http://www.esa.int/esaHS/ESAQHA0VMOC_iss_0.html sez,
"How much does it cost?
"The cost of the ISS, including development, assembly and running costs over
a period of at least 10 years, will come to 100 billion Euros. High
technology on the space frontier is not cheap.
"However, the good news is that it comes cheaper than you might think. That
100 billion figure is shared over a period of almost 30 years between all
the participants: the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and 10 of the 17
European nations who are part of ESA. The European share, at around 8
billion Euros spread over the whole programme..."
So, according to an ESA website, Europe is paying about eight percent of the total cost of the ISS.
Now, if all they are doing is paying eight percent, why should they have much say in the program? There is an old cliche that he who pays the piper names the tune, and if ESA wanted more say in the ISS program, and if they wanted more respect from NASA, then they would (and should) pay for more of its costs. Yes, there have been times when they have felt like they have been jerked around by the United States and they are probably right. But they also have not paid for the right to complain very much. I suspect that when the meeting room doors are closed and the ESA officials have stopped complaining about NASA, they also recognize this point, and acknowledge that there is nothing they can do about it. They cannot pay more money, and they cannot get the Americans to treat them as equal partners unless they pay more money.
That said, ESA's former Washington representative, Ian Pryke, has pointed out that the ISS agreement has been very successful when you consider that nobody has withdrawn from it. Lots of countries drop out of lots of agreements for lots of reasons. But everybody is still in the ISS program who signed on 20 years ago. That indicates that despite their complaining, they are content with the program as is--for an accepted definition of "content."
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