24 September 1997
(Joint statement) (1250) (The following joint statement was released September 23, 1997 by the White House Office of the Vice President following the ninth meeting of the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technical Cooperation, also known as the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission) U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation GORE-CHERNOMYRDIN COMMISSION JOINT STATEMENT ON HUMAN SPACE FLIGHT AND SCIENCE COOPERATION The Vice President of the United States of America and the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation note with great satisfaction the progress made to date in the United States' and Russia's joint effort to expand cooperation in human space flight. This cooperation continues to result in unprecedented achievements. In particular, the joint missions between the U.S. Space Shuttle and the Russian Mir space station have met significant challenges while providing concrete scientific and technical results and serving as a symbol of the benefits of U.S.-Russian cooperation. Our ability to work together in joint space operations, to deal with on-orbit contingencies, and to build mutual trust has created a firm basis for future cooperation in the assembly, operation and use of the International Space Station (ISS). The Vice President and the Chairman of the Government note that cooperative activities in human space flight continue to achieve significant milestones. Accomplishments since the last meeting of the Joint Commission in February 1997 include: STS-84 (May 1997) U.S. Astronaut Jerry Linenger was picked up aboard Ananas and Astronaut Michael Foale was dropped off during the sixth Shuttle-Mir docking mission. This was the sixth of nine planned missions to Mir and the third one involving an exchange of U.S. Astronauts. Atlantis carried a Spacehab double module, and remained docked to Mir for five days. STS-84 involved the transfer of more than three tons of water and logistics to and from the Mir. On-orbit Contingencies: NASA has worked closely with the Russian Space Agency (RSA) to solve or work around a number of contingencies and system anomalies that have occurred on the Mir station in recent months. As a result, NASA's relationship with RSA has grown stronger as the two sides have learned to work together in difficult situations. This strengthened operational relationship will have tremendous benefits for the upcoming assembly and operation of the International Space Station. In the area of science and research cooperation related to human space flight, the Vice President and the Chairman of the Government note with satisfaction that several important milestones were reached since the last Joint Commission meeting: Space Biomedical Center for Training and Research: In its first two years of operations, work has progressed to establish the overall structure for the Center, and on planning the implementation of its projects, including: -- exchanges of telemedicine hardware; -- clinical sessions taking place via the Internet; -- development of the Center's general medical education component; -- assessment of Russian space technology which is applicable to improving life on Earth. As the Center begins its third year of activity, it will be developing telecommunications links to medical centers, medical institutes, and academic institutions throughout Russia to support both medical education and disseminate telemedicine utilization methods. These sites, linked via the Internet, will incorporate information technologies to improve access to health care and health information. Although the focus of the first two years of activities has been principally on the development and implementation of telemedicine and medical education, the founders of the Center anticipate further results in the other disciplines of gravitational and environmental physiology and pharmacological research, as well as the implementation of a business plan for transitioning Russian space technology to the national economy for the benefit of the people of Russia. BION-12 Mission: NASA and RSA have agreed to end primate experiments within the Bion Program. At the same time both sides support the direction of long term cooperation in the study of biomedicine and materials in microgravity conditions in Russian automatic spacecraft which will have important significance in answering fundamental and applied objectives in the interest of furthering the development of leading technologies and information systems. The Vice President and the Chairman of the Government will follow with interest the major upcoming events in U.S.-Russian cooperation in Human Space Flight. In particular they note the following: STS-86 (September 1997) Soon after the conclusion of the ninth session of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission the Space Shuttle Atlantis will deliver U.S. Astronaut David Wolf to the Mir station and return Michael Foale to Earth. This will be the seventh Shuttle docking mission in the Shuttle-Mir program. David Wolf continues American scientific research on board the Mir station. This mission will also include Russian Cosmonaut Vladimir Titov flying on board Atlantis. November 1997: Russian Science and Technology Advisory Council (STAG): NASA will host a US-Russian Symposium with Russian scientists presenting the final results of their research funded by NASA ($20M) via the STAG. STS-89 (January 1998) Eighth docking of the space shuttle to Mir. During the mission, a NASA Astronaut will transfer to Mir and David Wolf will return to Earth. Russian and American crews will continue to test operational procedures applicable to the International Space Station and conduct a variety of scientific experiments in the micrograviy environment. STS-91 (May 1998) Ninth docking of the Space Shuttle to Mir. During the mission, a NASA astronaut will return to Earth. STS-91 will complete the NASA/RSA Shuttle-Mir program. The Vice President and the Chairman of the Government note the particular significance of joint activities for the implementation of the ISS program. They confirm the commitment of both sides to this fundamental program, and encourage the continuing efforts to maintain the schedule for the beginning of its on-orbit assembly and completed construction by 2002. The Vice President and the Chairman of the Government note that the sides continue to work diligently to overcome the challenges presented by funding difficulties in Russia. In May 1997 the Government of the Russian Federation released 800 billion rubles for the International Space Station Program. RSA is currently working with the Russian Government to establish the mechanism for provision of $99.5 million USD (580 billion rubles) to RSA as part of the fiscal year 1997 funding for the International Space Station under a presidential decree signed on August 8, 1997. The Vice President and Chairman of the Government noted the importance of the establishment of this funding mechanism in order for RSA to be able to continue working to meet the revised 155 schedule. RSA conducted a General Designers Review (GDR) on September 12,1997, to review the progress of development of the ISS, including implementation of the Service Module schedule. At this meeting there was also a chart showing the progress of work on the Service Module. This GDR provided a basis for decisions to be taken at the next Space Station Control Board meeting currently scheduled for September 29, 1997, at which NASA, RSA and the other partners will reconfirm the ISS program schedule. The Vice President and the Chairman of the Government look forward to the signing of the lSS international agreements. Considering the importance of this major science and technology project, the Vice President and the Chairman of the Government believe the leaders of the ISS international partner countries should plan to sign the Intergovernmental Agreement by the end of 1997.