Star-crossed Orbits: Inside the U.S.-Russian Space Alliance

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9780071407960: Star-crossed Orbits: Inside the U.S.-Russian Space Alliance

This is a detailed, investigative history of the US-Russian space relationship from a long-time NASA insider-turned commentator. Oberg describes, from the points of view of key individuals both inside and outside the programme, the strengths and weaknesses that each side has brought to the partnership, the original hopes and promises for its benefits and its triumphs and disappointments. Proficient in Russian and a frequent visitor to that country, Oberg reveals the extent of the greed, corruption and covered-up setbacks that have marked the devolution of the Soviet space programme to its recent virtual collapse. He uncovers the US-Mir venture and NASA's reluctance to learn from its lessons. Ultimately, Oberg examines the prospects for the International Space Station, a project that he believes was begun with good intentions, but is in danger of running aground. With the Russians unable (or unwilling) to build their pieces of the station, NASA must assume more and more responsibility for it in an era when their "faster, cheaper, better" philosophy is already wearing very thin. Recent losses such as the Mars Observer are nothing compared to the disasters that could befall a cheaply Oberg has extensive contacts within NASA and is considered a leading expert in the Russian space programme. While he is still enthusisastic about many of NASA's goals, he is also able to take an informed critical stance on the space programme's shortcomings.

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From the Back Cover:

"Space is empty, but it is not a blank slate. Travelers there ... carry with them what they know, or think they know, about each other. So ... as Russia and America pioneered the space frontier ... they interacted with each other in a context that was rooted firmly back on Earth." from the Introduction

With great fanfare, the 36-year Space Race between the U.S. and Russia ended in 1993, giving birth to the U.S.-Russian space alliance. But while the alliance aims for a bold new era of space exploration and cooperation, this "marriage made in the heavens" has been plagued by misunderstanding, suspicion, and outright official lies.

Now, space shuttle veteran and Russian space program expert James Oberg provides an authoritative look inside the relationship between the U.S. and Russian space programs, and the current state of "cooperation" between the two. Interweaving policy analysis, technical description, and human drama, Oberg tells the complete story of this shaky marriage for the first time, revealing secrets that threaten to tear the alliance apart.

About the Author:

James Oberg was a space engineer for 22 years in NASA's mission control in Houston. He has been the space consultant for ABC News, United Press International, and several foreign networks. He is the author of Red Star in Orbit.

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