CHINA MAY (LEGALLY) SEIZE AN ABANDONED SPACE STATION
SADLY, THEY'D BE DOING US A FAVOR (Updated 12/4/2011)
By the end of September, 2011 China planned to launch its own space station. However, the collapse of the U.S. space program may offer them a cheap way to fullfill their space dreams. After the last U.S. Space Shuttle was retired/trashed, the only way for our astronauts to reach the International Space Station, or "ISS," largely built (see time lapse video) and paid for by the United States, ran into trouble when the Russian resupply ship, Progress, blew up in a rather spectacular explosion 900 miles after its launch in August. Since the cause of the failure was not known at first, tentative plans were drawn up to temporarily abandon the ISS until the problem is solved. However, in maritime law if a ship is totally abandoned, it may be legally seized by anyone who boards it. Likewise, probably, in space. On the matrix below the axis term is SPACE STATION. At skip +1 is CHINESE, a nation with the experience and hardware to seize the ISS (note: CHINESE is the same spelling in Hebrew as Sinai, the word in the open text). In the open text is THE ALIEN/FOREIGNER, and at skip -1 is SEIZED. All of this is seen in the 187-letter matrix with the white background. As for when this might happen, there might be some time to wait, but not a lot. In the open text on the full matrix is (ON THE FIRST DAY OF) THE SECOND MONTH IN THE SECOND YEAR AFTER THEY WERE COME OUT which might refer to the time after all current astronauts come out of the space station. The initial story about the possible evacuation of the ISS follows the matrix, however the Russians did successfully send three astronauts up to it on November 13, 2011. So if the Chinese want to grab the station, they have to wait a bit more. Russia suffered four major space failures in the last year, including loss of its Phobos Grunt Mars Mission.
NASA May Temporarily Abandon Space Station.
The AP (8/30) reports, "Astronauts may need to take the unprecedented step of temporarily abandoning the International Space Station if last week's Russian launch accident prevents new crews from flying there this fall." Astronauts slated to takeover ISS operations cannot arrive until investigators determine the cause of recent Soyuz accidents. NASA space program manager Mike Suffredini said yesterday, though, "We have plenty of options. We'll focus on crew safety as we always do." Temporarily leaving "the space station, even for a short period, would be an unpleasant last resort for the world's five space agencies that have spent decades working on the project. A planned Sept. 22 launch of the very next crew - the first to fly in this post-shuttle era - already has been delayed indefinitely." Three astronauts scheduled to leave Sept. 8 have had their stay extended by at least a week.
The New York Times (8/30, Chang, Subscription Publication) adds, "Astronauts will abandon the International Space Station, probably in mid-November, if rocket engine problems that doomed a Russian cargo ship last week are not diagnosed and fixed. Even if unoccupied, the space station can be operated by controllers on the ground indefinitely and would not be in immediate danger of falling out of orbit." During Monday's news conference, Suffrendini stressed, "Our job is, as stewards of the government, to protect that investment, and that's exactly what we're going to do." Suffrendini pointed out that last week's Progress accident isn't posing an immediate risk to the ISS astronauts, though one Russian aboard the station is running low on clothes and may need to borrow some form his NASA colleagues.
Suffrendini adds, "But if we have to de-man the ISS, we certainly have a safe way to do that. We'll try to prevent that if we can," reports the Christian Science Monitor (8/30, Weir). Meanwhile, "Roskosmos officially announced today that it will delay planned flights to resupply the ISS and rotate its crew until the causes of last week's crash of a Progress space freighter can be explained and corrected."
THE CAUSE OF THE PROGRESS ROCKET EXPLOSION. ISS. The key issue here will be how fast the Russians fix their problem. Alexei Kuznetsoy, a spokesperson for the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), stated, “Members of the emergency commission have determined the cause of the failure of the Soyuz carrier rocket’s third stage engine. It is a malfunction in the engine’s gas generator.” However, the problem might not be technical, it might be sabotage. Russian spaceflight technicians at the launch site only make about half of what they could make in Moscow. One of them, with the help of China, might have found a way to augment his or her income.
LOW PAY AND THE POSSIBILITY OF SABOTAGE. How bad is pay for Russians involved with their space program? It is, according to Anatoly Zak (a Russian expert who who maintains russianspaceweb.com), one of the critical factors which led to the loss of qualified personnel within the Russian space industry. He states, "Although the times when workers were going without pay for months had been overcome, rocket companies still lagged behind other sectors of the Russian economy in pay rates. According to the report by the Tsiolkovsky Academy of Astronautics, the average monthly pay within the space industry was 6,108 rubles per month. For comparison, gas producers would pay their employees on average 13,500 rubles per month, while the oil industry would compensate its workers with 24,800 rubles." How low is 6,108 rubles for month? It equates to 210.18 as of September 2, 2011. The oil industry wage of 24,800 rubles per month is $853.39. With poverty wages like that just given, the Russian space program is not just ripe for sabotage, it's a rotten piece of junk that Americans can not afford to trust for the trip up to the ISS or anywhere else! You get what you pay for.
The nature of the explosion is a problem because it supposedly happened when the rocket was 900 miles downrange. By comparison, when the Space Shuttle was 713.73 miles downrange as shown at 8:19 (467 seconds into the flight) on this video link , it was already 63.86 miles high (note: at only 307 seconds into launch, the same Shuttle was 267 miles downrange, but at the higher altitude of 67.34 miles). Supposedly, even though the Russian rocket was so far downrange at 325 seconds after launch, the explosion almost blew out windows on the ground for 100 kilometers around under the explosion. That's a hell of an explosion for the third stage of a rocket. A witness who heard the Progress explosion claimed to hear three booms. Perhaps one was the actual explosion, and the other two were sonic booms as wreckage reached lower altitudes. Whenever the Space Shuttle landed near our home in Satellite Beach, Florida, we always heard two very loud and very predictable booms about two minutes before the landing.
WHY WOULD A TAKEOVER BE JUSTIFIED? It is often said that possession is nine-tenths of the law. Beyond that there is a question of whether, as in maritime law, an abandoned ISS constitutes a "derelict." The definition of a derelict in maritime law is a ship that is floundering OR in peril and which the crew has been abandoned without hope for recovery or with no intention of saving the ship or of returning thereto. The United States has no vehicle capable of reaching the ISS. The Russians might be bought off by the Chinese. The Europeans have no way of delivering people to the station. So if there is no quick fix and the station flounders in space or is peril from space junk, the Chinese may well be justified in seizing it if they can get to it.
A. Space Junk. We seem to already be in the process of justifying such an action by China. On September 1, 2011, a story appeared on Fox News about the dangers posed to the ISS from all the space junk in orbit. There are, according to Corey Powell (Editor in Chief of Discover Magazine), about a half million pieces of space debris out there. While he doesn't discuss this aspect of the collision threat, it seems obvious that a manned space station might be easier to adjust the orbit of to avoid junk. The Chinese could thus argue that their occupation of the station is in the interest of safety. A station that is de-orbited in uncontrolled fashion could hit a city.
B. ISS Life Expectance. From the angle of long term use the station, on July 27, 2011, the Russians announced that they wanted to crash the station into the Pacific Ocean after 2020. What better justification could the Chinese ask for with respect to an attempt to save the station? Further, an argument could be made that the ISS might be useful for assembling components of a human (International) mission to Mars. Parts of it might even be transferred to the construction of such a mission in orbit. The material is there, why go to the expense of orbiting redundant equipment?
C. Financial Considerations. The U.S. borrows from China about 40 cents out of every dollar spent. U.S. debt to China is now about 1.16 trillion dollars. Often it just wants to print more (increasingly worthless) money to pay the Chinese back. Our national debt clock is HERE. The Chinese could argue that they need a real return for their loans (or, they might settle for other more humorous forms of humiliating us). The ISS is such a real return. The cost of the station's construction was probably about $150 billion, although Wikipedia pegs it at $35 billion to $160 billion. The differing cost estimates vary with the decision of including space shuttle costs required for construction. Since the space shuttle was essential to building the ISS, and these funds were diverted from more appropriate space goals like sending people to Mars, the higher end estimates should be used.
STATISTICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MATRIX. On first examination it seemed weird that CHINESE at skip +1 would be so close to the axis term, SPACE STATION. China is not discussed directly in the open text of the Torah. However, as mentioned earlier, the words for CHINESE and SINAI have identical spelling in Hebrew. Since the Torah was given at Mount Sinai, it's only moderately surprising to find these letters here in this fashion. The odds against it were about 51 to 1. The real surprise was to find SEIZED at a special case skip (-1). This a-priori term was there against odds of about 407 to 1 for a special case skip (+/- 1, or the absolute skip of the axis term, here -12,696). Finally I went looking for a word that means either THE ALIEN or THE FOREIGNER. Obviously the word FOREIGNER fits the CHINESE well since they did not participate in construction of the ISS and are therefore foreign to it. However, after interviewing an individual who claimed to have been taken aboard an ALIEN craft, I was curious to see if the word would be here because of something she said that triggered a rather heated discussion between us. In reference to beings that she identified as Tall Goldens, she indicated that they told her that if we put weapons in space, it would tear the fabric of space. That did not make much sense to me, but hearing it right after the Progress suffered a very violent explosion, I pondered the possibility that aliens might want to keep not only our weapons out of space, but people too unless we went up in their craft (not good). The Hebrew can back either meaning, though the term CHINESE probably indicates the more mundane use of the word as FOREIGNER. Odds against its appearance at skip +1 were about 163 to 1. The overall significance of the matrix was rated at P = 2.91E-7 meaning that there was about 1 chance in 3,431,246 that it would occur by chance. That's about as significant as these matrices can come for three a-priori terms found.
SHOULD WE CARE IF THE CHINESE GRAB THE ISS IF ABANDONED? A knee jerk reaction is, for sure. But a more considered reaction is that if the station is abandoned, they would do the U.S. a real favor. This country needs a kick in the face to get its space program going again, just as was the case when Sputnik was launched by the Russians. Such an action would do the trick, and maybe put a lot of very intelligent Americans back to work again.