NASA Official: U.S.-Soviet Project Paves Way for Cooperation
MOSCOW (AP) _ The launch of a Soviet rocket carrying a U.S.-built device to study the thinning layer of ozone in Earth’s atmosphere should lead to other joint space projects, a NASA official said today.
The Cyclone rocket blasted off Thursday from the Plisetsk Cosmodrome in the northern Russian republic, beginning the first major space research project between the two countries since the Soyuz-Apollo mission in 1975.
Samuel Keller, an associate deputy administrator at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said the launch marked the passing of a ″first major milestone″ both in the space program and in cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union.
″We’ll leave you this as the first step in many that we hope our two countries will take together,″ he told a news conference in Moscow. ″While we report to you today on the success of the launch, and that makes us feel very good, we also report to you on the success of our relationship, which we believe is equally important,″ he said.
The rocket carried a Soviet Meteor-3 satellite equipped with the NASA-built Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer, or TOMS. When released into orbit, it will begin measuring global levels of ozone and will monitor holes that seem to appear in the atmospheric layer every year.
It is the first time a U.S. instrument was carried aboard a Soviet satellite.
″This is our baby,″ said Yuri Israel, head of the Soviet Committee on Hydrometerology, which handled the launch and will direct mission operations.
″And I would like to say that we hope our baby grows into an adult and provides us with very valuable information,″ he said.
Scientists are concerned about the weakening of the ozone layer, which offers protection from harmful ultraviolet radiation in the sun’s rays.
Data from the device will be shared by U.S. and Soviet scientists.
It is expected that the satellite will orbit for at least two years, about 980 miles above Earth.