By Joe Mathieu, WBZ NewsRadio 1030

BOSTON (CBS) – Russia’s deputy prime minister says American astronauts may need to find a new way to the International Space Station following U.S. sanctions over the situation in Ukraine.

This is the scenario that people were worried about when we killed the space shuttle program with nothing to replace it – a fallout in relations with Russia which currently holds our only ticket to space.

I was lucky enough to cover the final few shuttle missions and in the time I spent at Cape Canaveral, this is exactly what people were talking about.

‘What if the Russians decided to stop flying us to the space station?’ they asked. ‘What if they refused to bring us home?’

Neither is likely. Though it makes you wonder after Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin suggested the “U.S. deliver its astronauts to the ISS with a trampoline” because of sanctions on tech exports to Russia.

Apparently they do have a sense of humor in the Putin administration.

But the fact is the Russians wouldn’t dream of cutting our ride to space. And that’s because they need our money.

We pay more than $70 million for one seat on a Russian Soyuz rocket. Every time we go up. And our bill is due. The Washington Post reports we are set to pay a lump sum of almost $458 million for Russian space services.

And I’m pretty sure that any resentment over U.S. sanctions won’t keep them from cashing that check. And doing it all over again.

That’s why the great John Glenn still loves to quote the late NASA astronaut Gus Grissom, who said, “No bucks, no Buck Rogers.”

Follow Joe on Twitter @joemathieuwbz


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