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If the weather permits, and that looks doubtful at the moment, the last space shuttle, Atlantis, will lift off from Cape Canaveral. At the end of that countdown, when the shuttle leaves the launching pad, Russia, not America, will own outer space.
Here’s the story:
After the last US space shuttle flight blasts off tomorrow, Russia will officially have a monopoly on outer space. The 40-year-old Soyuz capsule will be the only vessel capable of reaching the International Space Station, and Russia can charge dearly for rides, the Wall Street Journal reports. “We are not in a very comfortable situation, and when I say uncomfortable, that is a euphemism,” says the director of the European Space Agency. “We made a collective mistake.”
Already, Russia has increased its asking price 175% since George W. Bush announced the end of the shuttle program in 2004—and it’ll rise again later this summer, to $43.4 million per seat. NASA officials are hoping private companies will eventually fill the shuttle gap, but they’re not holding their breath. The companies “will take a little longer to get online than they tell us,” an ISS manager says. “I would not expect to see anybody until late 2016.”
How do you feel about the last mission for America’s space shuttle fleet? Do you want Russia to own space?