NASA and Russia's aborted Soyuz flight shows how far we've come
The Soyuz MS-10 mission hurtled back to Earth like a bullet but is a symbol of space cooperation.
Claire ReillyFormer Principal Video Producer
Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
ExpertiseSpace, Futurism, Science and Sci-Tech, Robotics, Tech CultureCredentials
Webby Award Winner (Best Video Host, 2021), Webby Nominee (Podcasts, 2021), Gold Telly (Documentary Series, 2021), Silver Telly (Video Writing, 2021), W3 Award (Best Host, 2020), Australian IT Journalism Awards (Best Journalist, Best News Journalist 2017)
Just 50 years ago, the idea of sending a Russian and an American on a rocket into space would have been the start of a terrible knock-knock joke.
But just a few decades after the space race saw the world's biggest superpowers go head-to-head to reach the moon, all as a not-so-subtle sign of who had supremacy here on Earth, space has become the ultimate symbol of cooperation.
And nowhere is this more apparent than with the Soyuz spacecraft.
The most recent Soyuz MS-10 mission landed back on Earth (and back into the global consciousness) on Thursday after it was forced to abort shortly after launching from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The rocket was set to take Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and US astronaut Nick Hague to space for a six-month stint on the International Space Station. But now, Hague's first-ever space flight has come to an abrupt end and the crew on the ISS have been left with a rapidly warming party platter of welcome canapés.
But while the world watched as the two men made their "ballistic descent" (a move that
casually said in a post-landing press conference was like being shot out of a shotgun, no big deal) I couldn't help but think about the loftier mission the two men were part of.
Watch this: NASA's bid to get humans back to the moon
In the 1960s, space exploration was about the biggest show in town. On paper, it was all about pushing humanity further. About following the famous words of John F. Kennedy and doing things "not because they are easy, but because they are hard." And the subtext under all that drive? Spend crazy moon money, beat the Soviets.
But now space is the place for international cooperation. We're no longer shooting chimps and dogs into orbit as part of some weird, zoological one-upmanship (if aliens exist, they must have been worried about us for a while there). We're sending Russians and Americans side by side on international missions designed to better the human race.
I mean, look at these two friendzos. You just know they have an awesome collection of friendship bracelets...
Even when they're in space, astronauts and cosmonauts from all over the world cooperate for the common good. NASA, the European Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency (who brought us the amazing Chris Hadfield), Russia's Roscosmos and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) -- all have worked together to keep the ISS crewed and keep humans in space for almost 20 years.
If you're having a bad day, just pull up NASA TV on YouTube and watch a video of a new crew mission coming aboard the ISS. I can promise that you will immediately have something in your eye.
As we continue our missions in space, this kind of cooperation between countries, and with commercial space companies like SpaceX, will be vital. We're going back to the moon and then onward to Mars, and you better believe that's going to take a coordinated effort (you can check out more about that new mission in the video embedded above).
So yes, the latest Soyuz mission was a bit of a bust, don't think about the image of the spacecraft prematurely hurtling back to earth. Think about the two humans inside, sitting side by side.
11 breathtaking images of NASA astronauts floating in space