A Soyuz rocket carrying a crew of three launches to the International Space Station on May 29, 2014.
Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Former NASA administrator Mike Griffin thinks the United States' dependence on Russian technology to fly astronauts to the International Space Station is tantamount to a "hostage situation," according to an interview conducted in May.
"Right now, our ability to get into space on our own power and with our own goods and services, we're in a hostage situation," Griffin told ABC News in a told ABC News in a video interview at the National Space Symposium. "If it wishes to do so, Russia can decide that there are no more Russian rocket engines coming to the United States and that no more U.S. astronauts will launch to the International Space Station. They can make that decision on their own." ABC News posted the interview on Monday.
At the moment, NASA relies on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft and rockets to fly astronauts to and from the space station. But that could change in a matter of years. NASA is hoping to contract at least one private spaceflight company based in the United States to ferry astronauts to and from the space station by the end of 2017. The space agency is expect to award either one or more contracts to selected companies at the end of this month or in September. [Building the International Space Station (Photos)]
In March, current NASA administrator Charles Bolden said that the United States has quite a few options if Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, refuses to fly astronauts to the space station sometime in the future. Russia cannot operate the space station without the United States, according to Bolden.
"Because we provide navigation, communications, power … I hate to deal in conjecture," Bolden said during a Congressional hearing on March 27. "The partners would probably have to shut the space station down. If you're thinking that the Russians will continue to operate the International Space Station, it can't be done."