Katie Pavlich
The United States retired all space shuttles this week, leaving the future of the NASA space program somewhat unclear.

Now, communist Russia is touting space exploration as a top government priority, testing new spacecrafts and building a new cosmodrome with a goal of eventually getting to mars. Will this be space race round two?

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev vowed Tuesday that space will remain a key government priority.

Remember, the U.S. now has to rely on Russia to get to the International Space station with the retirement of all U.S. space shuttles.

They [Russia] will become the sole link to the space outpost after the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis closes out the U.S. program this summer.

Quite a "Sputnik" moment. Obviously Russia isn't an immediate threat, just ironic we are in this situation with Russia of all countries. Russia started the original space race in 1961, prompting the U.S. to put a man on the moon, and has invested a significant amount of money in their space program throughout the past 20 years.

On April 12, 1961, Russia started the 20th century space race, sending its first cosmonaut, Yury Gagarin, into orbit for 108 hours aboard the Vostok spacecraft. Fifty years later, the country’s president Dimitry Medvedev is talking about the world’s next space race: a nuclear powered manned space flight to Mars.

Back in the Soviet era, competition with the US pushed Moscow to invest heavily in space flight and new technology.

The good news according to American astronauts:

Russia could quickly fall behind America after the U.S. builds a new-generation Orion spaceship.

Katie Pavlich

Katie Pavlich is the Editor at Townhall.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiepavlich. She is a New York Times Best Selling author. Her new book Assault and Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women, will be published on July 8, 2014.

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Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography