It's interesting that 53 years after the United States put its first citizen in space, a Russian official is using our tattered space program to belittle us.
In response to stricter U.S. sanctions on Russia because of its actions in the Ukraine, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Twitter:
"After analyzing the sanctions against our space industry, I suggest to the USA to bring their astronauts to the International Space Station using a trampoline."
The gibe was a reference to the U.S. hitching rides on Russian Soyuz rockets to deliver and return our astronauts to the space station. The U.S. has not had that capability since the last space shuttle was retired in 2011.
According to Businessweek.com, the U.S. pays Russia about $71 million per seat for the rides to and from the space station. There are two Americans on the current crew of the ISS.
Entrepreneur Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, says he has a new spaceship, the Dragon MK2, that could accomplish the task. Other Dragon space ships have acted as freighters to the station.
SpaceX, though, has a rather contentious relationship with our government. Just last week it filed a protest saying that it had been shut out of a bidding process for space satellite launches.
We think government should inspire its citizens. The heroics of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration when we were growing up not only inspired but also led to discoveries that revolutionized medicine, the sciences and life in general.
Monday marks the 53rd anniversary of astronaut Alan Shephard's first U.S. space flight. It was a modest 15-minute flight on May 5, 1961, but it kicked off dreams and was a symbol of high aspirations.
Now our space program depends on the kindness of Russia. How sad.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.