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US, Russia Should Cooperate on Leveraging Private Investment for Space Programs - Expert
by Staff Writers
Colorado Springs (Sputnik) Apr 08, 2022

File image of a Russia rocket engine that until recently was being sold to the US.

Russia and the United States along with other countries should cooperate on leveraging private investment to develop human spaceflight programs as governments struggle with tight budgets, said Greg Autry, professor of space leadership at Arizona State University's Thunderbird School of Global Management.

"I think it is time for Russia to fully embrace the commercial future of space. With increasingly difficult budget situations in both our nations, we can only continue bold exploration and science if we leverage private investment and capture returns from the commercial development of space resources," Autry said on the sidelines of the 37th annual Space Symposium. "Our nations should work together on this."

NASA's budget, Autry added, has increased in nominal terms over the last few years, but has fallen far behind as a percentage of US government spending as the country addresses other priorities.

"NASA cannot afford a government-only human spaceflight program and by the same token I do not believe Russia can any longer maintain their human spaceflight program without international and eventually commercial partners," he said. "We should be working together and with our other international partners to find a path for this development to be agreeable, equitable and beneficial for those on Earth."

US-Russian, and previously US-Soviet, cooperation in the exploration of space has been a bright point in a long and unfortunately difficult relationship between the two countries.

"The successful working relationships between our astronauts and your cosmonauts has always been backed by the cooperation of hundreds of engineers, scientists and managers in our respective space agencies," he stressed. "Until recently, our political leaders and agency leaders have been very supportive of this cooperation, even when other geopolitical tension separated our national interests. That has been a very good thing."

Autry said, personally, he is a fan of the historical success of Russian space exploration and feels that both competition and cooperation with Moscow helped NASA achieve great things.

"America would never have succeeded in the Moon landings if we had not had the very successful early Soviet space program as a 'foil' to position ourselves against. The point being that even if we are in conflict, we can make each other stronger. Let us hope that never results in actual conflict in space."

Autry shared that he has long been a fan of Yuri Gagarin, and was upset with the Space Foundation's decision to change the name of their annual event from "Yuri's Night" to "A Celebration of Space."

"He achieved an amazing milestone for humanity and was by all accounts a brave and honorable man. I actually keep an original acrylic painting by artist Simon Kregar entitled 'Yuri's Night' over my office desk," he said.

While many are unhappy with Russia's operation in Ukraine, he added, that should not result in Americans censoring past achievements or "canceling" great individuals who are not engaged in the current political process.

"I see nothing but positive outcomes from us all acknowledging what has been achieved by your cosmonauts and our astronauts," Autry said.

Autry went on to say that just recently in October Roscosmos, NASA and the world's space agencies got together in Dubai for the Head of Agencies panel.

"Roscosmos Directory General Dmitry Rogozin was very positive. He was the star of the conference," Autry said.

However, Autry also said he believes many of Rogozin's statements, including about cooperation on the ISS, have been provocative.

"ISS is the greatest construction achievement of humankind and should be persevered," Autry added. "We should work together to keep it going and when it is no longer functional, we should secure it in a higher orbit as an artifact - like many historical ships and aircraft we have preserved."

Source: RIA Novosti

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