The great space pique of recent years is between Russia and SpaceX. And Elon Musk is winning it

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Late last week, the Russian Progress 81 spacecraft I arrive to the International Space Station with almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies. Days later, Space X he sent his own victualling mission. It may seem like an innocent coincidence, but it sums up the great space battle of recent months, a battle that this Elon Musk is winning.


the russian might. Since 2011, Russia has been a central player in space exploration. Projects like the ISS would depend critically on its technology and many space missions had to use its means and facilities to reach a successful conclusion. Moscow took advantage of it and, although during this decade many projects have tried to break that monopoly, nobody had succeeded.

Until now. with success in extremis of Boeing, but especially with the effectiveness of Space X, the situation changed radically. The war in Ukraine only accelerated the process, and it has all led to NASA making a bold move earlier this month, quite quietly: ad that it had planned to buy five additional Crew Dragon missions from SpaceX to carry astronauts to the International Space Station.

Five flights? What does that mean? As Eric Berger pointed outthe space agency’s press release was not very specific, but what NASA was doing was showing its willingness to become independent from Russia for the maintenance of the ISS and, ultimately, a “pretty strong signal” that, Among its plans is to keep the station operational beyond 2030.

And it is that, with those five flights, NASA ensures that it will have enough flights to keep the space station fully occupied until the year 2030. The year in which the “international agreement” ends to keep the ISS operational. To the six missions that Boeing would have if it finally manages to start up its system (as it seems it will happen at the end of this year), we must add the ten of Space X. 16 flights that, at two per year, complete the 8 years that remain until the end of the decade.

A new space race has begun and everyone has the same goal: mining on the Moon

The future of the ISS (and of space exploration). However, there are still pending tasks. For example, the ISS still needs the Russian spacecraft to maintain its altitude (or to avoid space debris). Without the recurring impulse of Russian Progress, the station would rush over the planet in just over two years. It is true that America has a new ship, the Northrop Grumman’s Cygnuscapable of propulsion, but there is still a lot of work to be done to make that a viable alternative.

However, the mere fact that NASA continues to invest many resources in developing the technology necessary to keep the Station hints that the ISS will have a future (or, at least, that a new space station is on the way). Otherwise, As analysts point outthis way of playing your cards is not well understood.

What is clear is that the “Star Trek” dream; that is to say, the dream of a space exploration where international collaboration prevails is getting further and further away. The new space race, even though it is full of commercial derivatives, has returned to the starting line: geopolitics covered with a halo of science and technology.

Late last week, the Russian Progress 81 spacecraft I arrive to the International Space Station with almost three tons of…

Late last week, the Russian Progress 81 spacecraft I arrive to the International Space Station with almost three tons of…

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