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STAR CITY, Russia — This place was once no place, a secret military base northeast of Moscow that did not show up on maps. The Soviet Union trained its astronauts here to fight on the highest battlefield of the cold war: space.
Yet these days, Star City is the place for America’s hard-won orbital partnership with Russia, where astronauts train to fly aboard Soyuz spacecraft. And in two years Star City will be the only place to send astronauts from any nation to the International Space Station.
The gap is coming: from 2010, when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shuts down the space shuttle program, to 2015, when the next generation of American spacecraft is scheduled to arrive, NASA expects to have no human flight capacity and will depend on Russia to get to the $100 billion station, buying seats on Soyuz craft as space tourists do.
The administrator of NASA, Michael D. Griffin, has called the situation “unseemly in the extreme.” In an e-mail message he sent to his top advisers in August, Dr. Griffin wrote that “events have unfolded in a way that makes it clear how unwise it was for the U.S. to adopt a policy of deliberate dependence on another power.”