Of course, at least they have the ability to launch an astronaut into orbit. Sometimes.
Following four spectacular launch failures the Russian space program is on hold while engineers struggle to find exactly what went wrong. That leaves a crew of three astronauts aboard the International Space Station, stranded, and has many in the U.S. (finally) questioning the logic of abandoning the shuttle program without a viable U.S. space launch system in place.
"Many of the systemic weaknesses of the Soyuz system were not a big deal in the shuttle era. Yet now they indeed become of paramount concern to the survival of our $100 billion investment in America's space future," Harman warned.Without shuttles, and without Soyuz, the space station may be in danger."The whole thing is a damn house of cards," Kraft told FoxNews.com. "Without the space shuttle, you leave yourself extremely vulnerable to losing the whole space station," he said.That has far greater implications than it sounds, he noted. For example, NASA has been been promoting the privatization of space flight as a replacement for the space shuttle."Without the space station, there is no market for the commercial vehicles. Zero," Kraft said.Astronauts have been living aboard the station, without interruption, for almost 11 years. NASA has insisted last month's accident will have no adverse influence on the International Space Station crew, because their existing supplies of food, water and oxygen are sufficient."That's true," Kraft told FoxNews.com. "They have a very good complement of equipment. The question is, do they have the right equipment? And can they use if it they have to?"He noted that extra-vehicular activity, or EVA, was often required to repair the station or add a new part. If the station is damaged, however, how would crew perform that operation?"If you've got a damaged space station and you couldn't do an EVA, the U.S. shuttle would have been the only other vehicle with an EVA capability."
Click here to read the entire interview with Art Harman, director of The Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration.