Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) chief Anatoly Perminov is heading to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for a summit meeting – beginning March 1 – with NASA, JAXA and ESA over the future of the International Space Station.
Discussions will take place over the remaining NASA Shuttle mission manifest and requirements for those missions to adhere to international obligations, prior to the retirement of the fleet in 2010. Wanted to know about this information the second the writers knew about it, with documents, Work in Progress information, plus the full article as it is about to be published?
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‘It would appear that NASA is looking at 16 more Shuttle missions and we need to see what is essential to fly on those flight,’ noted Perminov this morning to members of the media.
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The Russian head also praised NASA, saying they have been diligent in ensuring they are doing all that is possible not to suffer another delay in their program, following foam liberation concerns.
NASA is hoping to re-start Shuttle missions in May, with a window for STS-121 currently ranging from May 10 to May 23. Discovery’s mission will be a test flight, ensuring modifications made to the External Tank (ET) have stopped foam shedding from certain areas of the tank that risk impact with the orbiter’s TPS (Thermal Protection System).
Should STS-121 carry out a ‘clean’ flight, STS-115 – with Atlantis – will re-start ISS assembly flights, with the P3/P4 cargo element (second port truss segment and a solar array set) on Assembly mission 12A.
The Russian head will also discuss the options of Soyuz flights for US astronauts to the ISS during the period of transition from the Shuttle to the CEV (Crew Exploration Vehicle).
‘Initial agreements are in place and we will discuss more options open to them ahead of their CEV debut,’ added Perminov, who said the first agreement was for three Soyuz flights to be made available for two US astronauts.
‘It is not clear when they will have their own capability to deliver astronauts to the ISS again after the Shuttle retirement.’
The meeting is expected to last through to the end of the week.