Cablegate: Ambassador and Nasa Administrator Attend Launch and Docking

DE RUEHMO #2603/01 2920407
R 190407Z OCT 09



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Ambassador and NASA Administrator Attend Launch and Docking
for Soyuz 20S Flight; First Meeting of U.S.-Russia Space Cooperation
Working Group

MOSCOW 00002603 001.2 OF 003

Sensitive but Unclassified. Not for Internet distribution. Please
handle accordingly.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: From September 28 through October 3, NASA
Administrator Charles Bolden traveled to Russia and Kazakhstan for
the first time as the NASA Administrator to participate in the
launch and docking activities for the Soyuz 20S (TMA-16) flight to
the International Space Station (ISS). Ambassador Beyrle and
Administrator Bolden held their introductory meeting at U.S. Embassy
Moscow before the NASA and U.S. Embassy Moscow delegation traveled
to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to view the launch and to
meet with the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) Head Anatoly
Perminov and other Russian space officials. The first meeting
between NASA Administrator Bolden and Roscosmos Head Perminov also
served as the inaugural session of the Space Cooperation Working
Group (SCWG) under the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission
(BPC) announced by Presidents Obama and Medvedev in July 2009. The
overall visit and SCWG meeting successfully set the stage for
enhanced civil space cooperation between Russia and the United
States. End Summary.

Soyuz Launch: The Mission

2. (SBU) NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Ambassador Beyrle
participated in the launch and docking activities for the Soyuz 20S
(TMA-16) flight to the International Space Station (ISS). Members
of the ISS Expedition 21 crew aboard the Soyuz are Roscosmos Soyuz
Commander Maxim Suraev and NASA Flight Engineer Jeffrey N. Williams,
joined by Roscosmos Space Flight Participant (SFP) Guy Laliberte,
the Canadian founder of Cirque du Soleil.

3. (SBU) The Soyuz 20S crew joined the ISS Expedition 20 crew
already on orbit. The ISS Expedition 20 crew consists of Roscosmos
ISS Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Roman Romanenko,
NASA Flight Engineers Michael Barratt and Nicole P. Stott, Canadian
Space Agency Flight Engineer Robert Thirsk and European Space Agency
Flight Engineer Frank De Winne. These nine spacefarers will spend
10 days together before the Soyuz 18S returns to Earth with Soyuz
Commander Gennady Padalka, Flight Engineer Michael Barratt and
Roscosmos SFP Guy Laliberte. With the October 11 departure of the
Soyuz 18S, the on-orbit crew becomes Expedition 21, commanded by ESA
astronaut Frank De Winne.

NASA Administrator Bolden Meets Ambassador Beyrle
--------------------------------------------- ----

4. (SBU) On September 28, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden met
with the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, John R. Beyrle, at the NASA
Moscow Liaison Office (NMLO) at U.S. Embassy Moscow for an
introductory meeting. Ambassador Beyrle was accompanied by
Environment, Science and Technology (EST) Counselor Deborah Klepp.

5. (SBU) Administrator Bolden shared some of his experiences and
impressions as a NASA Astronaut and from his first meeting with the
Russians, including his training and his shuttle flight that was the
first shuttle mission within the framework of the Shuttle-MIR
program. Ambassador Beyrle shared his impressions and experiences
with NASA and the Russian government from his current and previous
positions at U.S. Embassy Moscow. The Ambassador described the
NASA/Roscosmos relationship and the International Space Station
(ISS) Program as one of the best examples of U.S.-Russia
cooperation. The NASA HQ and Embassy delegations then joined the
U.S. Embassy Moscow Marine Security Guard (MSG) Detachment for an
informal dinner, which was hosted at the Marine House.
Administrator Bolden met with the Marines and related his
experiences as a career Marine and as a NASA astronaut.

NASA and U.S. Embassy Moscow Delegation Attend Baikonur Launch
--------------------------------------------- ----

6. (SBU) From September 29-30, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden led
a delegation to Baikonur, Kazakhstan to participate in the events
related to the launch of Soyuz TMA-16. On September 30, at 13:14
Kazakh time, a Soyuz-FG rocket successfully launched Soyuz TMA-16 to
the International Space Station (ISS).

7. (SBU) While in Baikonur, Administrator Bolden met with his

MOSCOW 00002603 002.2 OF 003

Russian counterpart Anatoly Perminov, Head of Federal Space Agency
(Roscosmos); his former crewmate and Russian cosmonaut from the
STS-60 space shuttle mission, Sergey Krikalev, who now heads the
Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center; as well as a number of key
Russian space officials. The two heads of agencies visited the crew
quarters and the cosmonauts' alley at Baikonur on launch day, and
they participated in the crew suit-up ceremony, which dates back to
the first flight of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. Mr. Bolden also visited
the launch pad to view the Soyuz vehicle prior to flight, as well as
the Soyuz and Progress spacecraft processing facility, the Baikonur
Space History Museum, and the historic cottages once used by Yuri
Gagarin and Sergey Korolev. The Ambassador accompanied the
Administrator for all these activities.

NASA and U.S. Embassy Moscow Delegation Attend TsUP Docking
--------------------------------------------- ----

8. (SBU) The NASA delegation and Ambassador Beyrle traveled to the
Mission Control Center - Moscow (MCC-M, also known by its Russian
acronym TsUP, pronounced "soup") to participate in the Soyuz docking
to the ISS. On October 2 at 12:37 Moscow time the Soyuz TMA-16
successfully docked with the ISS. After the docking, the Russian
and U.S. officials participated in a joint press conference. After
the hatch opening, the officials jointly took part in a live ground
to space telecon and congratulated the crew aboard the ISS.

NASA Administrator Inaugurates Space Cooperation Working Group
--------------------------------------------- ----

9. (SBU) Between the Soyuz docking to the ISS and hatch opening,
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and the Head of Roscosmos Anatoly
Perminov successfully conducted their first official meeting at the
Mission Control Center, Moscow. The gathering also represented the
first meeting of the Space Cooperation Working Group within the
framework of the Bilateral Presidential Commission established by
Presidents Obama and Medvedev after the July 2009 summit in Moscow.
According to the decision of the two presidents, the respective
heads of agencies were designated to co-chair the joint working
group on space cooperation.

10. (SBU) At the meeting, the two sides discussed the status of the
space programs of both countries and emphasized the successful
implementation of the Soyuz launch and docking to the International
Space Station. Both sides recognized the successful cooperation in
space over the past several decades, from the Apollo-Soyuz Test
Project to the International Space Station (ISS) Program, and looked
forward to expanding their cooperation in space exploration. Mr.
Bolden and Mr. Perminov recognized the nine years of continuous
human presence on-board the ISS and discussed their mutual desire to
expand cooperation in a number of different areas. The heads also
noted their mutual interest in encouraging students in the fields of
science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The two sides
also agreed to an agenda of future work activities for further

11. (SBU) The Russian government had previously passed a one-pager
to the U.S. government on September 29. While the Russian one-pager
proposed the addition of several topics -- including satellite
navigation, earth monitoring, space debris, and the legal basis for
cooperation -- the delegations agreed at the meeting that these
issues did not belong to the SCWG. NASA and Roscosmos subsequently
agreed to specific areas for more detailed discussions, including
International Space Station utilization and lifetime extension,
biomedicine research, and research and technology development for
space exploration.


12. (SBU) NASA Administrator Bolden and Ambassador Beyrle both felt
that the visit, meetings and discussions were highly successful and
productive, as they highlighted over 40 years of U.S.-Russia
cooperation in space, as well as over ten years of highly integrated
international cooperation and assembly of the ISS. More
importantly, it appears that the new relationship established
between the NASA Administrator and the Head of the Russian Federal
Space Agency (Roscosmos) will strengthen the foundation for

MOSCOW 00002603 003.2 OF 003

continued U.S.-Russia cooperation and enhance the opportunity for
even broader cooperation in the future. End Comment.


© Scoop Media

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