Cosmonauts, Astronauts Promote Space Cooperation
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) _ The Apollo astronauts and Soyuz cosmonauts who met in space 15 years ago this month said Tuesday greater space cooperation could save both of their countries time and money.
″We have now very good orbital complex,″ cosmonaut Alexei Leonov said, referring to the Soviet space station Mir. ″But we don’t have good transport system. We use only Soyuz spacecraft. It is not enough.″
Leonov suggested that the Soviets use U.S. shuttles and Americans, in turn, have access to Mir, which was launched in 1986.
″I’m sure we could use Mir right now,″ said astronaut Vance Brand, commander of the shuttle Columbia’s delayed astronomy mission.
Both Columbia and Atlantis have been disabled by hydrogen leaks.
Leonov, Brand and the other three men who made history on July 17, 1975, when Apollo and Soyuz docked 140 miles above Earth, said during a news conference at Johnson Space Center in Houston that their mission set the stage for U.S.-Soviet space relations.
″To us it was a symbol that here were countries with two absolutely different languages, two different units of measurement and two political philosophies, yet we set forth a common goal,″ said Thomas Stafford, who commanded the Apollo mission.
Leonov and cosmonaut Valery Kubasov have been on an Apollo-Soyuz reunion tour of the United States the past two weeks with Stafford and former astronaut Donald ″Deke″ Slayton. The four plan to visit Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., on Wednesday and Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday.
Brand has been unable to take part in the reunion activities, except for Tuesday’s program, because of his preparations for the Columbia mission.
Stafford, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, said he would like to see a repeat of the Apollo-Soyuz mission, as well as a cosmonaut on a shuttle and an astronaut on Mir during the next decade.
He stressed the importance of Soviet input in America’s plans for missions to the moon and Mars.
″Sometimes it is very healthy to compete and some other times it is important and necessary to work together,″ said Kubasov. ″An important and complicated technological mission such as a flight to Mars is certainly one of those which would necessitate cooperation.″