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Editorial: Space Station Deserves Nobel Peace Prize

Published: July 17, 2014 (Issue # 1820)




  • Photo: NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Over the past several months, we have witnessed an almost major collapse in bilateral relations between Russia and the U.S., seemingly throwing to the wind more than 20 years of modest but quantifiable rapprochement between these powerful and once bitter enemies.

The Nobel Committee, which will award the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize in October, should look closely at the contribution each candidate makes toward the easing of tensions between Russia and the West when choosing this year's winner.

One candidate in particular has contributed more toward these ends than any other nominee: the International Space Station partnership.

This partnership, formed more than 15 years ago to facilitate the construction and operation of a $150 billion outpost in space, represents the largest international collaborative project ever undertaken during peacetime.

Space agencies have so far refused to allow political currents to interfere with the International Space Station program. The crisis in Ukraine, however, has thrown the future of the program into question.

In response to U.S. sanctions, and a federal government order for NASA to suspend all cooperation with Roscosmos outside of the ISS program, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said in May that Russia was not interested in extending ISS participation beyond 2020. Roscosmos is in talks with the Russian government over the fate of ISS participation, but there are real concerns that politics will torpedo the otherwise bright future of the ISS program.

Ending Russian participation in the ISS could easily lead to a return to Cold War enmity with the very real potential of sparking an arms race in space, a scenario only narrowly avoided when the U.S. and U.S.S.R. competed for glory on the final frontier.

It would also wreck one of the few examples of major international cooperation as governments burn bridge after bridge in the Ukrainian crisis.

The men and women of these national space agencies that make up the International Space Station partnership the organizational structure established by partner agencies from 15 nations that support the football-field-sized space station has promoted cultural understanding between all participants. NASA, European, Canadian and Japanese space officials live and work among their Russian peers in Moscow, and Roscosmos officials do the same in Houston.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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