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posted by martyb on Wednesday December 12 2018, @09:32AM   Printer-friendly
from the orbital-maneuvers dept.

Russia Wants to Extend U.S. Space Partnership. Or It Could Turn to China.

The American incentives for engaging with Russia in space in the 1990s — political goals like the employment of idle rocket scientists to prevent missile proliferation — have mostly disappeared with the resumption of tensions. The Trump administration has already proposed that by 2025 the United States should stop supporting the International Space Station that is the principal joint project today. A final decision is up to Congress. The American role might be shifted to a commercial footing thereafter.

[...] [It] is unclear how much longer the post-Soviet era of space cooperation between the United States and Russia can last in the more hostile environment now surrounding relations. In the interview, [Dmitri O. Rogozin, the director of Russia's space agency,] said Russia wanted to carry on joint flights with the United States and its allies, despite the tensions over election interference, wars in Syria and Ukraine, and the chemical weapons poisoning of a former double agent in Britain.

[...] Analysts say Moscow has a strong incentive to maintain the joint program: a decided lack of money to pursue a lunar station on its own. Russia's budget for its space program is something less than one-10th what the United States spends on NASA. [...] Russia's preference is to press on with a space program entwined with the United States', on either the lunar program or another venture, Mr. Rogozin said. But if talks fail, Russia can turn to China or India for partnership. There might then be two stations circling the Earth or the moon, one led by the United States the other a Russian-Chinese enterprise. Mr. Rogozin even floated the idea of a "BRIC station," the acronym for the developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Mr. Rogozin in November ordered the Russian Academy of Sciences to study the prospects for a solo Russian program to build a habitable base on the surface of the moon. Ivan M. Moiseyev, the director of the Institute of Space Policy in Moscow, said in a telephone interview that any proposal for a lone Russian lunar station was fantastical, given the budget constraints. "The technical capability exists, but the finances don't."

The U.S. and NASA could develop stronger partnerships with the European Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Indian Space Research Organisation instead.


Related: Price War Between SpaceX and Russia

Original Submission

Related Stories

NASA Suspends Collaboration with Russia 22 comments

NASA has released a statement indicating that they are "suspending the majority" of "ongoing engagements with the Russian Federation". Cooperation will continue "to maintain safe and continuous operation of the International Space Station." They have taken this action citing violations Ukraine's sovereignty by Russia.

NASA apparently is focusing on regaining human spaceflight capabilities and ending dependence on Russia. The statement goes on to say: "The choice here is between fully funding the plan to bring space launches back to America or continuing to send millions of dollars to the Russians." According to the "information initially came to light from a leaked memo".

This comes after a recent statement by Charles Bolden a NASA administrator indicating that relations with Russia were fine. There are currently Two Americans, Three Russians, and the Japanese Commander aboard the ISS Expedition 39.

Russia to Build New Space Station with NASA after ISS 18 comments

Discovery Magazine reports that in a landmark decision Russia has announced initial plans to build a new orbital space station together with NASA to replace the International Space Station (ISS), which is set to operate until 2024.

Igor Komarov, the head of Russia's Roscosmos space agency, made the announcement flanked by NASA administrator Charles Bolden at Russia's Baikonur launchpad in Kazakhstan. "Roscosmos together with NASA will work on the programme of a future orbital station," said Komarov. "We agreed that the group of countries taking part in the ISS project will work on the future project of a new orbital station." Russia had said earlier this year it planned to create its own space station after 2024 using its modules from the ISS after it is mothballed. The two agencies will be unifying their standards and systems of manned space programs, according to Komarov. “This is very important to future missions and stations.”

The next goal for the two agencies is a joint mission to Mars said NASA chief Charles Bolden. “Our area of cooperation will be Mars. We are discussing how best to use the resources, the finance, we are setting time frames and distributing efforts in order to avoid duplication.”

Price War Between SpaceX and Russia 27 comments

From the (Kansas City) Daily Star Albany :

Recent moves in Congress to restrict the use of Russian rocket engines on national security missions sparked a revolution in the U.S. commercial space program. Private businesses such as SpaceX and Blue Origin, as well as Aerojet Rocketdyne, are lining up to offer homegrown rocket engines to NASA. Meanwhile, Russian President Putin just abolished his country's own Federal Space Agency, replacing 'Roscosmos' with a new corporation that "will design new spacecraft and implement new projects by itself."

But before you assume that Russia has been bitten by the Capitalism bug - don't. In contrast to SpaceX, which is a private venture, Russia's new-and-improved Roscosmos will be wholly owned by the Russian state.

Asserting complete control over the space effort is, to Putin's mind, a way to control costs and prevent corruption, such as when certain persons at Roscosmos famously embezzled or wasted as much as $1.8 billion in 2014. Whether the restructuring will also make space travel "cheaper," as [deputy prime minister] Rogozin hopes, remains to be seen.

SpaceX publishes a price of $61.2M USD for a Falcon 9 launch. Can Roscosmos compete with that? The Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture ULA finds that price hard to beat. So do the French and Chinese. From the article:

[...] California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez described a conversation she had with France's Arianespace a few years ago: "They were telling me that their launch costs about $200 million equivalent. They said they weren't worried about UAL [sic] but could I get rid of SpaceX? Because they were going to drive them out of business!"

And over in China, officials interviewed by Aviation Week recently lamented that "published prices on the SpaceX website [are] very low." So low, in fact, that with China's own Long March rockets costing $70 million per launch, "they could not match them."

Original Submission

NASA and International Partners Planning Orbital Lunar Outpost 10 comments

According to Popular Mechanics, the Russians might finally reach the Moon... aboard an American-made Orion spacecraft en route to an internationally built and operated orbital lunar outpost:

During the past couple of years, American, Russian, European, Japanese, and Canadian officials quietly discussed a possible joint human space flight program after the retirement of the ISS. Although these five space agencies might not be on the same page as far as whether to go to the moon first or head straight to Mars, they're getting closer to an agreement that a human outpost in lunar orbit would be the necessary first step either way.

During the latest round of negotiations in Houston last month, the ISS partners narrowed down the list of potential modules that would comprise their periodically visited habitat. According to the provisional plan, four key pieces made the cut for the first phase of the assembly, which is penciled in to take place from 2023 to 2028 in lunar orbit: The spartan outpost will include the U.S.-European space tug, a Canadian robot arm, a pair of habitation modules from Europe and Japan, and an airlock module from Russia. This hardware would hitchhike on NASA's giant SLS rocket, along with the Orion crew vehicle at the top of each booster.

Original Submission

NASA and Roscosmos Sign Joint Statement on the Development of a Lunar Space Station 14 comments

The U.S. and Russia will work together to develop a space station orbiting the Moon. Canada, Japan, and the ESA have also expressed interest in the project:

At this year's International Astronautical Congress, NASA and Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, signed a joint statement expressing their intent to work collaboratively toward the development of a space station further out from Earth, orbiting the Moon, as a staging point for both lunar surface exploration and deeper space science.

This is part of NASA's expressed desire to explore and develop its so-called "deep space gateway" concept, which it intends to be a strategic base from which to expand the range and capabilities of human space exploration. NASA wants to get humans out into space beyond the Moon, in other words, and the gateway concept would establish an orbital space station in the vicinity of the Moon to help make this a more practical possibility.

Let's hope that the station, if built, becomes a refueling station that can store and distribute fuel produced on the Moon.

Deep Space Gateway. Also at The Guardian.

Previously: NASA Eyeing Mini Space Station in Lunar Orbit as Stepping Stone to Mars

Related: Moon Base Could Cost Just $10 Billion Due to New Technologies
ESA Expert Envisions "Moon Village" by 2030-2050
Scientists Scout Sub-Surface Settlement Sites on the Moon and Mars

Original Submission

Russia Assembles Engineering Group for Lunar Activities and the Deep Space Gateway 8 comments

Deep Space Gateway (DSG) is a planned space station in lunar orbit. The U.S. and Russia signed an agreement last year to work on the station's development. Now Russia has created an engineering department inside the RKK Energia space corporation in order to plan the nation's lunar exploration, including a possible manned landing:

Officially, Moscow has been on a path to put a human on the Moon since 2013, when President Putin approved a general direction for human space flight in the coming decade. The program had been stalling for several years due to falling prices for oil, the main source of revenue for the Russian budget. Last year, however, the Russian lunar exploration effort was given a new impetus when the Kremlin made a strategic decision to cooperate with NASA on the construction of a habitable outpost in the orbit around the Moon, known as Deep Space Gateway, DSG.

Although the US saw the primary goal of the DSG as a springboard for missions to Mars, NASA's international partners, including Russia, have been pushing the idea of exploring the Moon first. On the Russian side, RKK Energia led key engineering studies into the design of the DSG and participated in negotiations with NASA on sharing responsibilities for the project.

To coordinate various technical aspects of lunar exploration, the head of RKK Energia Vladimir Solntsev signed an order late last year to form Center No. 23Ts, which would report directly to him. According to a document seen by Ars Technica, the group will be responsible for developing long-term plans for human missions to the vicinity of the Moon and to its surface, as well as for implementing proposals for international cooperation in lunar missions. This is a clear signal that NASA might soon have a new liaison in Russia for all things related to the DSG. The same group will also take care of all the relevant domestic interactions between RKK Energia and its subcontractors.

Unlike the ISS, the DSG should not require any orbital boost burns and could reach any altitude above the Moon using ion thrusters.

Here are two op-eds from last year about the Deep Space Gateway:

Terry Virts: The Deep Space Gateway would shackle human exploration, not enable it

John Thornton: The Deep Space Gateway as a cislunar port

Related articles:

Original Submission

Russian Space Chief Vows to Find "Full Name" of Technician Who Caused ISS Leak 35 comments

Ars Technica:

Last week, a pressure leak occurred on the International Space Station. It was slow and posed no immediate threat to the crew, with the atmosphere leaving the station at a rate such that depressurization of the station would have taken 14 days.

Eventually, US and Russian crew members traced the leak to a 2mm breach in the orbital module of the Soyuz MS-09 vehicle that had flown to the space station in June. The module had carried Russian cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev, European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst, and NASA's Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor.

[...] The drama might have ended there, as it was initially presumed that the breach had been caused by a tiny bit of orbital debris. However, recent Russian news reports have shown that the problem was, in fact, a manufacturing defect. It remains unclear whether the hole was an accidental error or intentional. There is evidence that a technician saw the drilling mistake and covered the hole with glue, which prevented the problem from being detected during a vacuum test.

Original Submission

NASA and Roscosmos Release Joint Statement on ISS Leak Amid Rumors 32 comments

Russian theory that NASA sabotaged the space station spreading like wildfire

As you may recall, a low-pressure leak occurred aboard the International Space Station in late August. Eventually the crews traced the leak to the orbital module of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft that had arrived at the station in June. After the problem was traced to what appears to be a manufacturing defect, the head of Russia's space program essentially called for the head of whoever made the error. Now, however, something entirely new is afoot in Russia. A growing number of Russian publications have been putting forth an absurd new theory—that a NASA astronaut deliberately caused the leak on board the station in order to force the evacuation of a sick crew member. The story has spread like wildfire during the last 24 hours, according to Robinson Mitchell, who translates Russian space stories for Ars.

One of the most prominent articles was published Wednesday in Kommersant, which says Russian investigators are vigorously pursuing the claim that Americans may have damaged the Soyuz deliberately. Publicly, Roscosmos leader Dmitry Rogozin was quoted as saying about Russia's investigation into the leak, "Results we have received do not give us an objective picture. The situation is much more complex than we earlier thought." Privately, however, several sources from the space agency are leaking much juicier comments to the Russian media. "Our Soyuz is next to the Rassvet (Dawn) module, right next to the hatch into the American segment of the station," one source told Kommersant. "Access to our ship is possible only with the permission of our commander, but we cannot exclude an unsanctioned access by the Americans."

Head of Russian Space Agency Roscosmos Wavers on Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway 33 comments

Russia throws doubt on joint lunar space station with U.S.: RIA

Moscow may abandon a project to build a space station in lunar orbit in partnership with U.S. space agency NASA because it does not want a "second fiddle role," a Russian official said on Saturday.

[...] [The] head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said Russia might exit the joint program and instead propose its own lunar orbit space station project.

[...] A spokesman for Roscosmos said later that Russia had no immediate plans to leave the project. "Russia has not refused to take part in the project of the lunar orbit station with the USA," Vladimir Ustimenko was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency.


Also at ABC (Associated Press).



Original Submission

Soyuz Rocket Carrying Crew Successfully Launches and Docks with ISS 4 comments

Two months after mishap, Russian Soyuz rockets back into space with crew

Less than two months after a booster separation issue with a Soyuz rocket caused a dramatic, high-gravity landing, the Russian vehicle soared back into space on Monday at 6:31 ET (11:31 UTC). The launch from Kazakhstan, under mostly clear, blue skies, was nominal as each of the rocket's first, second, and third stages fired normally.

The launch sent NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Canadian David Saint-Jacques, and Russian Oleg Kononenko into space aboard their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft. After making four orbits around the Earth, their Soyuz spacecraft is scheduled to dock with the Russian segment of the International Space Station at 12:35pm ET (17:35 UTC) Monday.

According to the docking was successful.

Previously: Soyuz Crew Vehicle Fails Mid-Flight, Astronauts OK
Soyuz Failure Narrowed Down to Collision Between Booster and Core Stage
NASA Confident in Soyuz, Ready for Crewed Launch in December
Roscosmos Completes Investigation into October Soyuz Failure, Finds Assembly Issue

Original Submission

Canada Will Contribute to the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway 19 comments

Gateway Moon station: Canada joins Nasa space project

Canada will contribute US$1.4bn to a proposed Nasa space station that will orbit the Moon and act as a base to land astronauts on its surface.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the step would "push the boundaries of innovation".

The space station, called Gateway, is a key element in Nasa's plan to return to the Moon with humans in the 2020s.

As part of the 24-year commitment, Canada will build a next-generation robotic arm for the new lunar outpost.

"Canada is going to the Moon," Mr Trudeau told a news conference at Canadian Space Agency's headquarters near Montreal, according to AFP.

*Canada is going near the Moon.

Also at CBC and Popular Mechanics.

Previously: Russia Assembles Engineering Group for Lunar Activities and the Deep Space Gateway
China Will Focus on a Lunar Surface Station Rather than a Lunar Orbiting Station
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Could Launch Japanese and European Payloads to Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway
Head of Russian Space Agency Roscosmos Wavers on Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway
Is the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway the Right Way to the Moon?

Related: Future of U.S.-Russian Space Cooperation in Doubt
ESA Plans to Send Mining Equipment to the Moon

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by realDonaldTrump on Wednesday December 12 2018, @09:57AM

    by realDonaldTrump (6614) on Wednesday December 12 2018, @09:57AM (#773388) Homepage Journal

    Not a bad thing. I think the world really wants us to get along. And I'm working very hard on that one. I even met, very successfully, with President Putin. But unfortunately we have a history with Russia. A hole history. And so many Russians say, "oh, NASA drilled into our Space Station." As a SUPER CHEAP & TOTALLY CRAZY way to save money ($85 million). Because our Astronaut was very sick. And needed a ride back to Earth. To the Planet Earth, which we love. And riding with the Russians was a great way to split the fare. So supposedly our guy drilled a little hole in the Russian module. And let out the air. WRONG!!! NASA would never do something that cheap. Or that crazy. They're wild, and crazy guys. But they know where to draw the line. Sorry, Russia. Your Factories have big problems. Which is why I'm not getting the Russian Cell Phone!!!

  • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Wednesday December 12 2018, @10:06AM (10 children)

    by PiMuNu (3823) on Wednesday December 12 2018, @10:06AM (#773390)

    > The Trump administration has already proposed that by 2025 the United States should stop supporting the International Space Station []

    "As of late 2010, the preferred plan is to use a slightly modified Progress spacecraft to de-orbit the ISS."

    Just to debunk the claim that Trump is involved.

    • (Score: 2) by zocalo on Wednesday December 12 2018, @11:14AM (7 children)

      by zocalo (302) on Wednesday December 12 2018, @11:14AM (#773397)
      Trump, or rather his administration, *is* involved. There are on-going discussions over whether or not to extend the mission and - if so - what that might look like, how it might be funded, who will take part (which may not include the US/NASA), and for how long. So, while the current end of service life and proposed approach to de-orbit the ISS has nothing to do with Trump's administration, *when* that actually gets implemented is almost certainly going to be their call, unless a final decision is kicked down the road to the next presidency of course.
      UNIX? They're not even circumcised! Savages!
      • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Wednesday December 12 2018, @12:08PM (5 children)

        by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <> on Wednesday December 12 2018, @12:08PM (#773412) Homepage Journal

        I'd love nothing more than for the ISS to stay up there until The End Of Time.

        But stuff wears out. Solder joints eventually go bad. Plasticizer evaporates from plastic leading it to grow brittle. There's all manner of ways technology can age.

        In principle all the worn out stuff could be replaced, but some might not be economical to do so; perhaps it would be cheaper to build a _new_ space station, especially so considering how much technology has advanced since the first one was built.

        I expect they started out at least using incandescent light bulbs. I do know that fluorescent lights are not permitted on submarines because they contain Mercury. But now we have RGB LEDs.

        Yes I Have No Bananas. []
        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by zocalo on Wednesday December 12 2018, @12:38PM (4 children)

          by zocalo (302) on Wednesday December 12 2018, @12:38PM (#773424)

          I'd love nothing more than for the ISS to stay up there until The End Of Time.

          Yeah, me too, even if it's just as a mothballed monument in a higher orbit or at the L1 Earth/Moon Lagrange point, but that's highly unlikely to happen and a de-orbit to avoid space junk, especially if it were to suffer a collision at some point, is the best way to go. Some of the modules are going to exceed their projected service life even in the more modest proposals being floated for a manned mission extension (Boeing is currently doing work on this aspect), and some of those modules are right at the core of the station and not readily serviceable. A half-way house while we wait for a successor to be launched, with some parts of the station depressurised and the rest used for long-term zero-G experiments on an ISS that's unmanned apart from occassional service missions may be one option, but ultimately we do have to stop being sentimental about it and decide on whether to replace it with something else in orbit or focus on the moon instead.

          UNIX? They're not even circumcised! Savages!
          • (Score: 1) by Sulla on Wednesday December 12 2018, @06:12PM (3 children)

            by Sulla (5173) on Wednesday December 12 2018, @06:12PM (#773574) Journal

            Could the ISS be brought down in pieces on the BFR?

            Ceterum censeo Sinae esse delendam
            • (Score: 2) by zocalo on Wednesday December 12 2018, @06:42PM

              by zocalo (302) on Wednesday December 12 2018, @06:42PM (#773600)
              Definitely, but epi;f take a LOT of trips and a LOT of expense, just so everyone involved can argue over where the reassembled ISS gets to be exhibited since various modules are legally the responsibility of different nations. According to Wikipedia NASA estimated it would have taken more than 27 shuttle mission to do this, and that assessment was obviously undertaken when the shuttle was still in service so probably more than 30 by now with further additions being made. Don't forget that both those craft are designed primarily for getting stuff to orbit, not to bring it back again (BFR payloads would be responsible for making their own way to the surface), so it's not a simple case of looking at the max payload.

              Realistically, either it gets mothballed and pushed out to L1 for posterity and future generations, or it gets a de-orbit burn, and since the latter is cheaper and easier...
              UNIX? They're not even circumcised! Savages!
            • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday December 12 2018, @07:00PM

              by takyon (881) <> on Wednesday December 12 2018, @07:00PM (#773606) Journal

              BFR has to be proven before it can be considered, since anti-SpaceX people in NASA and/or Congress are not taking it seriously. Technically it is possible, but does it require a human on board? How much will each flight of the BFR cost? Will there be an upcharge since it would be early in the rocket's history and the USG is the customer?

              Our modules can stay up there until 2028. Some modules are controlled by Canada, EU, Russia, etc. so they need to decide what to do with theirs. Example: Russia has thought about using its modules to form a new station. That's all tentative since they don't have the budget to do anything good anymore.

              We have 10 years to think about this and get BFR working. There's no urgent need to save the ISS yet.

              [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
            • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday December 13 2018, @01:07AM

              by takyon (881) <> on Thursday December 13 2018, @01:07AM (#773813) Journal

              Another way to look at it: while it would be a bit of a disgrace to just let the ISS or Hubble burn up in the atmosphere, BFR should lower the costs of getting a new one up by at least an order of magnitude.

              With Hubble I think we can make a decent case for returning it safely to the ground and to the Smithsonian. Or we could try to reservice it again. Even if we had a dozen JWSTs and LUVOIRs [], we are never going to run out of astronomical targets to point Hubble at.

              ISS is a lot harder. It's comprised of modules from multiple international partners, and it could always be somewhat useful in orbit somewhere. There are probably some valid concerns about the longevity of the station. Maybe structural integrity is weakening and bacteria and molds are eating the plastics. If it's just micrometeorites that are the problem, we should be able to slap on additional shielding plates to fix it.

              [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by PiMuNu on Wednesday December 12 2018, @12:30PM

        by PiMuNu (3823) on Wednesday December 12 2018, @12:30PM (#773423)

        Sure, but there is a big difference between "early termination" and "not extending". TFS heavily implies "early termination" although it isn't explicitly written, which is disingenuous.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday December 12 2018, @01:38PM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <> on Wednesday December 12 2018, @01:38PM (#773433) Journal

      Trump Administration Plans to End Support for the ISS by 2025 []

      Other countries want to stay until 2028.

      Just to debunk the claim that Trump is involved.

      Get your facts straight before you throw words around.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
      • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Wednesday December 12 2018, @02:07PM

        by PiMuNu (3823) on Wednesday December 12 2018, @02:07PM (#773439)

        I'm probably being thick but from the linked summary:

        > A draft budget proposal would end support for the International Space Station (ISS) by 2025. The U.S. was previously committed to operating at the ISS until 2024:

        which supports what I am saying, i.e. Trump administration is confirming previous plans, this isn't a descope. I didn't RTFA however.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Wednesday December 12 2018, @12:05PM (2 children)

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <> on Wednesday December 12 2018, @12:05PM (#773410) Homepage Journal

    It was to give the Europeans something to do other than endlessly shooting at each other.

    There are two tribes in Borneo who from time to time would launch attacks from each other. There would be a great many angry shouts, threatening gestures and brandishing of spears, until eventually just _one_ man was killed.

    Then both tribes would go home, at which time the victorious tribe's women would bear many children, their crops would be abundant, there'd be lots of good hunting and the like.

    But because the losing tribe would endure such grim despair, eventually they'd say "Fuck This Shit" and attack the other.

    For all we know, they'd been doing this for millenia; the documentary "Dead Birds" is a brilliant portrayal of these people.

    But after "Dead Birds" was seen world-wide - in the sixties I think - some anthropologists were dismayed at there being so much death and suffering.

    Now both tribes play _soccer_.

    Yes I Have No Bananas. []
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Freeman on Wednesday December 12 2018, @05:25PM (1 child)

      by Freeman (732) on Wednesday December 12 2018, @05:25PM (#773538) Journal

      Yeah, the US and Russia already play sports, and have quite the rivalry. It would be a shame, if Russia and the US would have a falling out in Space Science after such a long history of working together. Even when we were in the midst of the Cold War.

      Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
      • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Wednesday December 12 2018, @06:39PM

        by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <> on Wednesday December 12 2018, @06:39PM (#773598) Homepage Journal

        Actually it was a year and a half.

        Many countries participated in this effort to determine the exact shape of the earth, but the US and Soviets were leading contributors.

        I speculate that this study was agreed upon by Communist Block and Western scientists specifically for the purpose of preventing nuclear war, as everyone knew the US and Russia would have ICBMs before long. To know the exact shape of the earth is _just_ what Johnson would have needed to drop a nuke right into the wastebasket next to Kruschev's desk.

        And Vice Versa.

        Yes I Have No Bananas. []