News

DATE=1/10/97
TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
NUMBER=5-35413
TITLE=SHUTTLE / MIR OVERVIEW
BYLINE=DAVID MCALARY
DATELINE=WASHINGTON

/// EDITORS NOTE: THE SPACE SHUTTLE "ATLANTIS" LAUNCH IS SCHEDULED SUNDAY, 1/12, AT 4:27 A.M. EASTERN TIME. THE DOCKING WITH "MIR" IS TO TAKE PLACE ON WEDNESDAY, THE FOURTH DAY OF THE FLIGHT. IF THE INTRO IS UPDATED AFTER LAUNCH, THE TEXT WILL STAND UNTIL THE DOCKING TAKES PLACE. ///

INTRO: THE COUNTDOWN IS IN PROGRESS FOR THE LAUNCH OF THE U-S SPACE SHUTTLE "ATLANTIS" AND ITS RENDEZVOUS NEXT WEEK WITH THE RUSSIAN "MIR" SPACE STATION. IT WILL BE THE FIFTH OF NINE PLANNED MEETINGS BETWEEN THE TWO ORBITERS. V-O-A'S SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT DAVID MCALARY REPORTS THAT THE U-S TEAM AGAIN WILL LEAVE ONE OF ITS CREW MEMBERS BEHIND ON "MIR" FOR SEVERAL MONTHS OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH.

TEXT: THE MAIN PURPOSE OF THE SHUTTLE FLIGHT IS TO REPLACE U-S ASTRONAUT JOHN BLAHA ['BLAH-HA] WITH ASTRONAUT JERRY LINENGER ['LIH-NEN-JER]. DR. LINENGER, A PHYSICIAN, WILL REMAIN ON "MIR" FOR MORE THAN FOUR MONTHS, CONTINUING THE PERMANENT U-S PRESENCE ESTABLISHED BY SHANNON LUCID LAST MARCH AND CARRIED FORWARD BY JOHN BLAHA IN SEPTEMBER.

THE ENTIRE SERIES OF DOCKINGS AND ASTRONAUT EXCHANGES IS GIVING THE U-S AND RUSSIAN SPACE AGENCIES PRACTICE WORKING TOGETHER TO BUILD AN INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION IN ORBIT BEGINNING LATE THIS YEAR.

THE U-S SPACE AGENCY OFFICIAL OVERSEEING THE U-S RESEARCH FOR THE JOINT PROGRAM -- JOHN URI ['YOUR-EE] -- SAYS THE EXCHANGE WILL BE REPEATED THREE MORE TIMES THROUGH 1998 AS THREE OTHER ASTRONAUTS TAKE TURNS LIVING ON THE RUSSIAN OUTPOST.

// URI ACT //

WE'RE VERY EXCITED THAT WE'RE MOVING FROM ONE MISSION TO THE NEXT. THE HANDOVER IS A SIGNIFICANT STEP TOWARD A PERMANENT U-S PRESENCE IN SPACE. FROM A RESEARCH STANDPOINT, THAT ALLOWS US CONTINUED AND UNINTERRUPTED USE OF ALL OF OUR FACILITIES TO CONTINUE A WELL BALANCED AND QUALITY RESEARCH PROGRAM, LAYING GOOD GROUNDWORK FOR THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION.

// END ACT //

LIKE PREVIOUS DOCKINGS BETWEEN "ATLANTIS" AND "MIR, THIS ONE IS LARGELY AN EXERCISE IN TRANSFERRING THOUSANDS OF KILOGRAMS OF EQUIPMENT, SUPPLIES, FOOD, AND WATER TO THE RUSSIAN SPACE STATION. THE SHUTTLE IS ALSO CARRYING MATERIALS FOR DR. LINENGER TO CONTINUE U-S BIOMEDICAL EXPERIMENTS, AND WILL RETURN JOHN BLAHA'S EXPERIMENTS AND SOME RUSSIAN HARDWARE TO EARTH.

DR. LINENGER'S EXPERIMENT SCHEDULE IS CROWDED. HE WILL PERFORM NEARLY 80 TESTS DURING HIS SOJOURN ON "MIR" -- MANY MORE THAN HIS PREDECESSORS. THE HEAD OF THE U-S SPACE AGENCY'S ORBITAL RESEARCH PROGRAM -- ARNOLD NICOGOSSIAN -- DESCRIBES IT AS A PREVIEW OF WORK THAT WILL TAKE PLACE ABOARD THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION.

// NICOGOSSIAN //

THAT DEMONSTRATES WHAT AN INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION CAN DO BECAUSE IT'S TRULY AN INTERNATIONAL GROUP OF SCIENTISTS WHO GOT TOGETHER TO PUT THE PROGRAM [TOGETHER], WHICH INCLUDES FRANCE, GERMANY, RUSSIA, THE UNITED STATES, HUNGARY, AND CANADA. BECAUSE IT'S A PLATFORM WHICH CAN STAY LONG DURATION IN ORBIT, WE CAN DO ALL KINDS OF SCIENCE.

// END ACT //

CONSTRUCTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION IS TO BEGIN IN NOVEMBER WITH THE LAUNCH OF A RUSSIAN-BUILT CORE MODULE. A U-S SHUTTLE WILL DELIVER THE FIRST AMERICAN COMPONENT IN DECEMBER -- A PRESSURIZED MODULE WITH SIX HATCHES THAT WILL SERVE AS A SORT OF VESTIBULE TO THE OTHER MODULES. BUT RUSSIAN BUDGET PROBLEMS WILL DELAY DELIVERY OF A SECOND RUSSIAN COMPONENT -- A COMMAND AND CONTROL CENTER CALLED THE SERVICE MODULE.

NEWS REPORTS HAVE SUGGESTED IT WOULD BE SENT UP EIGHT MONTHS LATER THAN ITS ORIGINAL APRIL, 1998, DELIVERY DATE -- SIGNIFICANTLY DELAYING HUMAN HABITATION OF THE STATION. BUT U-S AND RUSSIAN OFFICIALS INSIST THE OUTLOOK IS NOT SO BLEAK.

THE U-S SPACE AGENCY'S ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR FOR SPACE FLIGHT -- WILL TRAFTON -- SAYS THE RUSSIAN DELAY WILL BE ONLY ONE MONTH.

// TRAFTON ACT //

WE HAVE RECEIVED ASSURANCES FROM THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF THEIR GOVERNMENT THAT THE SERVICE MODULE WILL BE THERE, ALBEIT LATE. THE PARTNERSHIP IS HEALTHY. WE EXPECT THAT WHEN WE'RE DONE, THE SLIP IN THE SERVICE MODULE WILL HAVE VERY LITTLE EFFECT ON THE ASSEMBLY SEQUENCE.

// END ACT //

THE RUSSIAN SPACE AGENCY OFFICIAL IN CHARGE OF HUMAN SPACE FLIGHT -- ALEXANDER BODVENKO -- SAYS HE EXPECTS THE RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT, THE DUMA, TO PROVIDE THE MONEY FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO MEET ITS INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION COMMITMENTS.

// BODVENKO [IN RUSSIAN] //

LATELY WE HAVE A LOT OF SUPPORT FROM THE GOVERNMENT TO MAKE SURE WE'RE GOING TO HAVE ENOUGH FUNDS TO BE ABLE TO COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS. BY THE END OF THE MONTH, WE EXPECT THE FINAL READINGS OF THE BUDGET TO TAKE PLACE IN THE STATE DUMA AND WE ARE QUITE CONFIDENT A POSITIVE DECISION WILL BE MADE.

// END ACT //

RUSSIAN SPACE AGENCY OFFICIAL ALEXANDER BODVENKO. (SIGNED)

NEB/DEM/PT

10-Jan-97 6:55 PM EST (2355 UTC) NNNN

Source: Voice of America