Cablegate: Codel Rohrabacher Explores Future Paths of U.S.-Russian
OO RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #1604/01 1571357
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 051357Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8434
INFO RUEANAT/NASA WASHDC
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 2854
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 3197
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 001604
DEPT FOR EUR/PRA, OES/SAT
NASA FOR O'BRIEN
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TSPA PREL OREP RS
SUBJECT: CODEL ROHRABACHER EXPLORES FUTURE PATHS OF U.S.-RUSSIAN
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Congressman Dana Rohrabacher discussed potential
areas of U.S.-Russian space cooperation with Russian officials in
Moscow May 30 to June 2. The Russians were receptive to the
Congressman's proposals for a joint mission to the Moon. Energiya
Space Corporation President Vitaliy Lopota suggested a joint mission
to Mars instead of the Moon, and Rohrabacher agreed to study the
costs and risks of such an endeavor. Russian officials shared the
Congressman's concerns about the need to establish an international
partnership to track, detect and divert "Near-Earth Objects" such as
meteorites, asteroids and comets, from collisions with the Earth.
Russian officials also raised with the Congressman the draft
Framework Technology Safeguards Agreement, the Sea Launch program,
and the use of the Soyuz spacecraft for travel to the International
Space Station. END SUMMARY.
Planning a Moon Mission
2. (SBU) Congressman Rohrabacher discussed U.S. plans to establish a
manned base on the Moon in separate meetings with Energiya Space
Corporation President Vitaliy Lopota and Sergey Shishkarev, Chairman
of the Duma Transport Committee and head of the Parliamentary
Working Group on Aviation and Space. Noting that Russia had been a
reliable and trustworthy lead partner on the International Space
Station (ISS), Rohrabacher invited Russia to join the United States
in establishing a joint base on the Moon. While the United States
and Russia should play the lead role, other governments, such as the
EU, could also participate in such an endeavor. Rohrabacher warned
that China had its own Moon ambitions that were not necessarily in
either Russia's or the United States' interests.
3. (SBU) Shishkarev agreed the United States and Russia should join
forces for a Moon base, given the complexities of such an endeavor
and the synergies that could be achieved by a meaningful
partnership. Shishkarev noted that the partnership would need
high-level political support on both sides to be successful.
4. (SBU) Rather than a moon mission, Energiya President Lopota felt
that the United States and Russia could more effectively work
together on a joint manned mission to Mars. Lopota proposed
establishing within the next 15 years a manned orbiting presence
around the Red Planet and robotic exploration of the surface. In
Lopota's view, a Mars mission would be a more significant step
forward in space science and exploration than establishing a manned
Moon presence. After a manned Mars orbiting presence was
established, Lopota suggested that the United States and Russia
could plan a mission to the Moon from Mars.
5. (SBU) Rohrabacher stated that he would discuss a potential
U.S.-Russian Moon partnership further with NASA Administrator
Michael Griffin. He also said he would ask NASA to prepare a cost
and risk assessment of a joint Mars mission and see how that
cost-benefit analysis compared with a Moon mission.
6. (SBU) Rohrabacher proposed establishing an international
partnership, led by the United States, Russia and possibly the EU,
to detect and track "Near-Earth Objects" (e.g., asteroids,
meteorites and comets), and to establish means for preventing
collisions with the Earth. Both Lopota and Shishkarev welcomed such
a partnership. Lopota shared the Congressman's concerns about the
potentially devastating damage that such objects could inflict,
noting the 1908 Tunguska comet impact in Siberia and the large
asteroid that recently passed undetected between the Earth and Moon.
The Russians also welcomed Rohrabacher's suggestions to work toward
an international agreement on this subject and to hold an
international conference in California, possibly on the margins of
an already planned conference on space navigation at the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena December 8-14, 2008.
Technology Safeguards Agreement
7. (SBU) During the meeting with Duma Deputy Shishkarev, Roscosmos
Federal Space Agency International Department Deputy Director Sergey
Rybkin passed a copy of the June 2007 draft Framework Technology
Safeguards Agreement to Rohrabacher (FTSA). Rybkin noted that
Roscosmos Director Anatoliy Perminov had discussed the FTSA with
Rohrabacher on the margins of the Berlin Air Show on May 28. The
Russians do not understand why the United States is proposing that
the agreement only cover commercial, non-government spacecraft,
launch vehicles and components. In Rybkin's view, the agreement's
scope should be broad enough to cover the ISS and other government
technology. Rohrabacher said he would look into the question of the
FTSA's coverage when he returned to Washington.
Soyuz and Sea Launch
8. (SBU) Lopota briefed Rohrabacher on the safety and reliability of
the Soyuz spacecraft for manned transport to and from the ISS.
Lopota said the recent so-called "ballistic" return landings in
Kazakhstan had been mischaracterized in the press. He noted that
only four of the Soyuz's 122 flights had used a "ballistic" descent.
Rohrabacher said his faith in the Soyuz's reliability had not been
shaken, given the positive track record. Rohrabacher also discussed
Sea Launch with Lopota and thanked Energiya for making the program a
success. Rohrabcher invited Lopota to visit him during Lopota's
next scheduled visit to Sea Launch's home port in Long Beach.