Testimony of John H. Gibbons
Office of Science and Technology Policy
Subcommittee on Space Science and Ap plications
U.S. House of Representatives
October 6, 1993
Thank you Mr. Chairman and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, for theopportunity to share with you the Administration's view on the importantrelationsh ip we are building with the Russians through the Gore-ChernomyrdinCommission. Although the
Vice President was unable to appear today, he wanted me to extend his personalthanks to you Mr. Chairman, for your letter of invitation and the opportunityt o share our views.
I would like to begin with some background. I think all of us here todaywould agree that since the events of August, 1991, we have witnessed a dramaticand fundamental change take place in the former Soviet Union. This change hasopened up new vistas in our cooperative relationship with Russia, allowing usto leave behind the vestiges of the Cold War and develop a new partnership.
The vision of this new relationship was first sketched out by PresidentClinton and Pres ident Yeltsin during their summit in Vancouver. The twoPresidents agreed to establish a Joint Commission, headed by Vice PresidentGore and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, to transform this vision into reality.As you know, Mr. Chairman, the Vice President and the Prime Minister met inearly September to initiate the work of the Commission. What I would like todo today is provide the Subcommittee with a fuller understanding of the resultsof this first meeting, not only as they relate to space, but also the otherareas under the Commission.
Let me begin with the Committee on Space Cooperation, since I know it is thefocus of the Subcommittee's interest.
I think we all recall, Mr. Chairman, the Apollo-Soyuz project of 1975 whichdemonstrat ed, for the first time, that the U.S. and Russian spaceprograms--even under the most difficult circumstances--could work together. Wenow have an historic opportunity to combine our efforts in space across aspectrum of programs, not in the context of a n adversarial relationship, butrather, one that is based on cooperation and partnership.
We believe that the steps taken during the Gore-Chernomyrdin meeting will setus on a course which will allow us to work together on space activities tominimize costs, maximize research potential and reduce the time needed to doprojects.
In the area of human space flight, we intend to undertake a phased program ofcooperation that will have clear cut advantages for both sides. Phase oneinvolves expandi ng the number of rendezvous and docking missions between theU.S. Space Shuttle and the Russian Mir space station. In this initial phase,we will also have an opportunity to fly long duration missions on board the Mirspace station. These activities wil l help us gain experience in preparationfor rendezvous and docking missions with the U.S.-led international SpaceStation.
In the second phase of this program, we will examine the possible use of aMir module, flown in conjunction with a U.S. la b and serviced by the Shuttle,as an interim human-tended science facility. This phase of the program couldprovide an on-orbit facility that would allow us to conduct precursoractivities in utilization and operations.
We are working with the Ru ssians and consulting with our current partnersregarding a third phase of this program consisting of possible Russianparticipation in the U.S.-led international space station program. NASA andthe Russian Space Agency will develop a detailed plan by No vember 1 which willaddress how this phase could be implemented.
The President believes that the Space Station program represents an importantinternational partnership between the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan.He also believes that w e now have an historic opportunity to include Russia inthis endeavor, thereby not only putting the Cold War farther behind us, butalso adding a positive new dimension to the development of an internationalspace station. I know that he views this possi bility as an important elementof the new relationship we are developing with Russia and is representative ofthe type of project where we can work together to shape a more desirablefuture.
Alongside the initiative in human space flight, the Gore -Chernomyrdin meetingproduced agreements to expand cooperation in space sciences and environmentalobservation as well as fundamental research in aeronautical sciences.
In this first area--space science and environmental observations--NASA andNO AA will be working closely with the Russian Space Agency to study thefeasibility of a range of cooperative programs. This is a promising newventure where both sides will examine how to increase international cooperationto minimize costs, avoid duplica tion and increase the scope and effectivenessof work in these areas. In the second area--aeronautics--we will pursue thenegotiation of an MOU with the Russians which will provide a framework forgovernment-to-government cooperation. The Russians have developed a veryrobust aeronautics capability and we are eager to begin a dialogue that canbenefit both sides. Our desire is to have the MOU signed and in force by earlyNovember.
During the Commission meeting, the Vice President and the Prime Minister alsosigned a U.S.-Russian Commercial Space Launch Agreement. The agreement opensthe international commercial space launch market to Russia, under measured andequitable conditions. The agreement establishes basic rules for the commercialspa ce launch market concerning government involvement in such areas assubsidies, market inducements, and corrupt business practices. In our view,the agreement reflects Russia's commitment to enter the internationalmarketplace in a fair and responsible ma nner.
At this point, I would like to emphasize two extremely important points.
First, Mr. Chairman, we must recognize that this initiative in spacecooperation fits into the context of a much larger partnership with Russia, arelationship that will define the post-Cold War era. Our negotiations with theRussians in preparation for the first Commission meeting produced a keyunderstanding that Russia is committed to adhere to the guidelines of theMissile Technology Control Regime, one of the most important internationalregimes for the nonproliferation of weapons technology. This MTCR commitmentis a strong signal that Russia is prepared to be a consistent and responsiblepartner, one we can work with over the long term.
Second, I want to emphasize that the Space Station will be a U.S.-ledinternational space station. As you recall, in March of this year, thePresident requested a review of the Space Station Freedom Program in order toexamine whether the program's development, operations, and utilization costscould be significantly reduced while still achieving our scientific researchgoals and fulfilling our international commitments. On June 17, following areview of NASA's study by an independent panel of experts headed b y Dr. CharlesVest, President of MIT, the President announced his support for a scaled-downmodular version of Space Station Freedom that meets these objectives. ThePresident also called for pursuing expanded international involvement in thespace stati on with the possible participation of Russia.
We believe that the Space Station Alpha program meets these objectives. Itwill not only provide power, a microgravity environment and scientificfacilities comparable to Space Station Freedom, but do so at less cost.Additionally, the Space Station Alpha design allows us to maintain ourinternational commitments while also accommodating the possibility of Russianparticipation.
With respect to potential Russian participation, however, no one shouldconfuse the course we are charting with relinquishing control of the SpaceStation or exporting jobs out of the U.S. In developing this cooperativeprogram, we are focusing on areas that will not negatively impact the U.S.aerospace sector. We in tend to proceed in a way that protects our vitaldomestic interests while maximizing the benefit we can derive from fullerinteraction with the Russians. In some areas, such as solar dynamic power, andpossibly closed life support systems , we believe th at the net gain of newtechnologies from the Russians could stimulate jobs in the U.S.
I know the Subcommittee will hear in detail from NASA Administrator Goldin onthe specific technical elements of the phased program I've described as well as the activities in space science, environmental observations and aeronautics.The primary message I want to convey to you is the Administration's commitmentto the Space Station Alpha program as a national science and technologypriority and our enthusiasm about the opportunities we see emerging fromcooperation with Russia.
During the first meeting of the Joint Commission on Energy and Space, the VicePresident and Prime Minister also agreed on the agenda of five committees inaddition to the Spac e Committee. I would like briefly to review some of thekey objectives and activities of the other committees. One of the immediateobjectives of the Energy Committee will be to work closely with the Russians tostrengthen the role for U.S. firms in the Russian oil and gas sector. The nearterm emphasis will be on removing bureaucratic obstacles to implementing themany U.S. private sector oil and gas projects that are on the table. Duringthe Commission meeting, for example, we were able to announce the finalarrangements for a project in Western Siberia. In this project, the OverseasPrivate Investment Corporation will provide $28 million in loan guaranty andinsurance support for Texaco's $80 million oil well restoration project inWestern Siberi a. This is illustrative of what we want to accomplish across theboard to increase both the number of projects and also increase employmentopportunities in Russia. In the longer term, we also hope that the EnergyCommittee will be a useful forum to exc hange views on policy development andregulatory processes, particularly as the Russian Government wrestles with theneed to put energy legislation in place.
The Energy Committee will also oversee joint work emphasizing efficient andenvironmental ly sensitive ways to produce and utilize energy resources as wellas acceleration of our joint efforts in the area of nuclear safety. Duringthis first Commission meeting, we agreed to initiate a joint study to examinemore effective ways to ensure react or safety. We are also committed to makingprogress on nuclear liability protection, with hopes of coming to closure on aliability agreement very soon. I know Secretary O'Leary recently visitedMoscow to continue discussions on these topics and I am co nfident we will seeprogress as a result.
The second committee, the Business Development Committee, chaired by SecretaryBrown, is working to improve market access across a wide range of energy andtechnology areas. Opening new markets on each si de will create a win-winsituation for both the U.S. and Russia. The Business Development Committeewill serve as a forum to advocate specific trade and investment projects, alsoserving as a "matchmaker" between U.S. and Russian firms in energy, aerospa ceand other areas. One specific step this committee will soon take is theappointment of U.S. and Russian ombudsmen to work with firms to overcomeobstacles to business and investment.
The Administration is convinced that a strong role for the p rivate sectorthrough enhanced trade and investment can support Russia's economic reform.Through Secretary Brown's Committee, we are working with the Russians to createa business climate that is conducive to U.S. private sector investment bydeveloping a legal and commercial framework to normalize business relationsbetween our two countries.
In the remaining three areas, Environment, Science and Technology, and DefenseDiversification, we are just beginning to set our agenda. The Vice Presid entand the Prime Minister agreed to establish these committees during the firstCommission meeting. I expect the program of work will be fully developed intime for the next full Commission meeting in late November or early December.
I would no te, however, that we see the Environment and Science and TechnologyCommittee as having a cross-cutting function. We want to be sure that thebenefits of our cooperation in the environmental area flow through and impactactivities underway in the Energy Committee. Similarly, we will need to have aclose coupling between the Science and Technology Committee and the Environmentand Energy Committees.
In closing, I think it is fair to say that we face a major challenge andopportunity in our work with Russia. The challenge, clearly, will be to turnforty years of competition into a future of cooperation. The opportunity liesin creating a more peaceful and prosperous world. The Administration hasseized this challenge with vigor and, working w