Spaceflight Now: Space Station

Russian designer asks NASA for more 'tangible' support

Posted: July 12, 2000

NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin. Photo: NASA
In a long-winded, multi-language news conference, NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin congratulated his Russian colleagues for successfully launching the Zvezda command module to the international space station early today. The module's chief designer, in turn, thanked Goldin for his moral support over the past few years and unabashedly asked for more tangible support from the United States -- presumably hard cash -- in the years ahead.

"I have always felt very specific support on the part of Mr. Goldin throughout this project," said Yuri Semenov, speaking through a translator. "His support came out in various forms, mostly however, in the form and in terms of moral support. I wish, however, Mr. Goldin could switch from his moral support -- or rather add to his moral support -- other commitments we have been discussing time and again, such as very tangible material support for the station."

Semenov then echoed comments last week by Valery Ryumin of RSC Energia, the company that built the Zvezda module, that funding for future Russian space station components does not yet exist. Semenov's comments drew a mild rebuke from Yuri Koptev, chief of the Russian Space Agency.

"You know, our government cannot really be leaned on in terms of funding -- and hello, I'm being corrected, I'm being disciplined by Mr. Koptev -- I will say we cannot really look forward to much funding from that quarter," Semenov said. "This being a joint project, it needs to be financed jointly, Mr. Goldin. So my congratulations to all of you, ladies and gentlemen, and specifically to Mr. Dan Goldin. Thank you very much."

Goldin did not answer, shaking his head from side to side as he listened to the translator.

On a more upbeat note, Semenov reported Zvezda was in good shape after its ground-shaking climb to space.

"After the first revolution [orbit], the Zvezda module is performing nominally, we have no issues at all, everything is perfectly within tolerances," he said.

In an unexpected development, Koptev told a reporter the international space station, currently known simply by the acronym ISS, will be formally named after Zvezda docks with the lab complex. The station was known as "Freedom" in the 1980s but that name was withdrawn before the Russians were invited to participate in 1993. Since then, the station has been nameless, presumably because of the difficulty getting all of the project's international partners to reach agreement.

Earlier, Goldin said watching Zvezda rocket into the heavens marked "one of the happiest, proudest days of my life."

"We set a vision about eight years ago and we stuck to that vision," he said to Koptev. "Problems come, problems go, people change, governments change, leadership changes. But my friend, Yuri Koptev, never, never looked any other way but forward."

Referring to the financial woes that delayed Zvezda's launch by more than two years, Goldin said the resiliency of the Russian people "is unbelievable. They went through terrible, terrible economic changes for the worst, they went through a number of governments, they went through a series of problems and yet they persevered. I don't know any other group that has the toughness that I see from our Russian colleagues."

"I wrote four words on this piece of paper: Consistency, brilliance, intensity and unbelievable courage and what we saw today was a demonstration of that," Goldin said. "Now before we pop champagne corks I caution all of us, we have two more weeks of operations before we dock and then we have another few more weeks to check out the systems. But I have a sense that everything will be OK."

Said Anatoly Kiselev, a senior Russian space manager: "Politics has often intervened with this program. What we wish to say to the politicians is would you politicians please stay aside and stop interfering! Without you, we can really do business together."

Flight data file
Vehicle: Proton
Payload: Zvezda
Launch date: July 12, 2000
Launch time: 0456 GMT (12:56 a.m. EDT)
Launch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Docking date: July 26, 2000
Docking time: 0044 GMT (8:44 p.m. EDT on 25th)

Pre-launch briefing
Launch preview - The international space station's future riding on Zvezda.

Sky high stakes - A look at the contingency plans if things go wrong with Zvezda's launch.

Marvel of complexity - Overview of the Russian-made Zvezda service module.

A rocky road to launch - Zvezda and the international space station have been delayed many times.

Proton vehicle data - Overview of the Russian rocket that will launch Zvezda into space.

Launch timeline - Chart with times and descriptions of events to occur during the launch.

Two weeks to docking - Description of events leading up to Zvezda's docking to station.

Shuttle to outfit station - A look ahead to September's mission of space shuttle Atlantis.

Video vault
A Russian Proton rocket lifts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with the Zvezda service module.
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NASA animation shows the Zvezda module launching into space, deploying antennas and solar arrays and conducting orbit raising maneuvers.
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The Zvezda service module joins the infant International Space Station as seen in NASA animation of the docking with Zarya.
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One of Zvezda's power-generating solar arrays is unfurled in a factory test as the module is constructed.
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Take a look around inside the Zvezda service module that will be initial crew living quarters aboard the International Space Station.
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Russian technicians move the Proton rocket's nose cone around Zvezda in the factory to ensure to two will fit together properly.
  PLAY (185k, 20sec QuickTime file)
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