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NASA Press Briefings - 9/25/97

GOLDIN: Ever since becoming NASA Administrator in 1992 I have worked hard to make the Agency operate faster, better, and cheaper. The dedicated people at NASA have accomplished that, but never, never at the expense of our highest priority: safety. Today, I continue that commitment. It is only after carefully reviewing the facts, thoroughly assessing the input from independent evaluators, and measuring the weighty responsibility that NASA bears for the lives of our astronauts that I approve the decision to continue with the next phase of the shuttle-Mir program.

Tonight, the shuttle Atlantis will launch sending David Wolf up to replace Michael Foale and continue American presence on Mir. This is a decision that all of us at NASA do not take lightly. We share our fellow Americans' deep concerns for our astronauts' safety and we have heard the calls of some who say it's time to abandon Mir. We at NASA, especially Michael Foale, are deeply , deeply touched by this outpouring of emotion. However, we know the decision to continue our joint participation onboard Mir should not be based on emotion or politics. It should not be based on fear. Our decision should be based and is based on a scientific and technical assessment of the mission safety and the Agency's ability to gain additional experience and knowledge that cannot be gained elsewhere.

In a status report from Michael Foale, he urged our continued participation aboard space station Mir and that David Wolf join the Mir crew. I have also spoken to David Wolf. I have asked him if he's confident in NASA's safety review and if he thought we should go ahead. He answered with a resounding "Yes."

As the person who bears the ultimate responsibility for America's space program, I have been diligently reviewing the independent and internal safety assessments. I have concluded, shuttle-Mir has a thorough review process that ensures continued American participation onboard Mir and does not put human life in unnecessary peril. Briefly, I'd like to share that review process with you.

The first step in the review consists of a comprehensive all-systems analysis to conduct the mission safely and successfully. Each major system and component critical to the crew's safety and the mission success is reviewed and determined to be ready for flight. This is review is led by Shuttle Program Manager, Frank Culbertson. This step concluded last week with the final shuttle Flight Readiness Review, a separate comprehensive review of all aspects of shuttle-Mir missions. This review resulted in unanimous approval to proceed with the shuttle Atlantis to Mir.

The second step is an internal review led by Fred Gregory, NASA's Associate Administrator for Safety and Mission Assurance. At the Flight Readiness Review, Colonel Gregory gave his certification of shuttle- Mir flight safety.

A third step is an independent review by a NASA advisory council task force known as the Stafford Commission. This step, as with the two previous, is part of each and every shuttle-Mir mission review. Led by the distinguished and patriotic, former Gemini and Apollo astronaut, Lieutenant General Thomas Stafford, this review includes eight other non-NASA members. To address recent Mir problems, General Stafford took the unprecedented step of asking Dr. Ralph Jacobson, President Emeritus of the Charles Draper Laboratories, to head a small team and take a fresh look at this particular mission's safety and operational readiness. Because it's so important, we put an extra set of eyes on it. Yesterday I was briefed by General Stafford's and Dr. Jacobson's review of all Mir systems. They concluded, and I quote, "Not only is the Mir station deemed to be a satisfactory life support platform at this time, but it is anticipated that significant operational and scientific experience is still to be gained through continued joint operations."

Lastly, when the Inspector General raised concerns about the NASA safety review, we added even another step to our shuttle-Mir review process. I asked Thomas Young, member of the National Academy of Engineering, to lead yet another independent group of some of our country's best to look at the IG report. This group set out to find out if there was integrity to NASA's safety review process and to ensure that no stone was left unturned. Yet another set of eyes.

Mr. Young stated to me in his report, and I quote, "The safety issues cited in the Inspector General's report have been analyzed and assessed by NASA Phase I team. NASA has an adequate safety assessment process that is complete and thorough. We found no safety concerns that were not being considered by NASA safety assessment processes."

In light of the increased scrutiny and heightened emotion, I can assure you this intensely rigorous internal and external review of the shuttle-Mir analyzed thoroughly risk, readiness, and foremost, safety. I will not trivialize the risks associated with human space flight and exploration. Like all Americans, I know every time an astronaut travels into space there is risk. When we build the International Space Station, we will encounter similar problems and there will be danger. But NASA is ready. We are ready because the review assure us. But we're also ready because it's the right thing to do. Americans press forward. We overcome the unexpected. We discover the unknown. That's been our history, and that's been America's destiny.

I love this country very much and I feel very privileged to serve with the dedicated, brilliant, and courageous people we have in the American space team. Today, more than ever, I'm proud of everyone at NASA for their commitment to America's future and for their service to humankind. And to David Wolf and Michael Foale and the Atlantis crew, God speed. We'll see you when you get home.

Thank you very much.

STAFFORD: Thank you Dan. As Mr. Goldin has outlined, I was asked by him, in an additional step to the independent review process that I've been asked to chair on the shuttle-Mir rendezvous, he asked last July to have even a more thorough in-depth, or a separate team look at the total anomalies that occurred there on the Mir, including the collision, the fire, look at all the systems in depth, and make a recommendation with respect to the safety status and feasibility of continuing on for productive work. As he outlined, I chose General Ralph Jacobson, the former retired director of the Charles Baker Laboratory, to head this team and we had a series of meetings in the United States and just recently completed approximately 10 days in Russia. We reviewed the status of each individual system, the operational procedures. From that it was determined that basically from General Jacobson's recommendation to me, our whole team reviewed that, and we voted on that yesterday. After the completion of that I then briefed the Administrator that we found that productive work could still be done on Mir, that the risk of going to Mir was no greater than it has been before. Also I outlined to Mr. Goldin and to other people that when you review a whole sequence of a shuttle to Mir or a Soyuz to Mir and back, it's somewhat analogous to taking an airplane from Washington National Airport to Chicago O'Hare. The biggest risk on that's going to be the take-off from Washington National and the landing at Chicago O'Hare. In between, things are fairly benign. And this is the way that you have on the space station, at least at the status that it is today. Certainly, there's a risk, but the biggest risk, I think to all of us that have flown in space, is still the launch phase and the recovery phase. The Mir has recovered up to about with solar inertial attitude, with the computer on, 23 kilowatts of power, which gives adequate margin with respect to doing adequate science, productive work. We've also determined as we look at the Mir, and maybe it hasn't been brought out before, you have nearly five levels of redundancy of oxygen, and that's more than I ever had on Gemini or Apollo. The basic systems are in decent shape to go. Now just like a ship at sea for a long period of time, a submarine or an airplane, you are going to have systems problems and anomalies, and when you have that, you go work on them, and that's exactly what's been done.

We dug into the collision. We have a good understanding of exactly what happened there, and the steps to preclude any further activity like that, and also on the fire. So after a thorough, in-depth investigation, I was able to make my recommendation to the Administrator yesterday that everything was "go" and there's no more risk for this mission than there has been for the previous.

YOUNG: The NASA Administrator asked our group to review the report of the NASA Inspector General and the NASA response to the report. I might add that we also reviewed relevant congressional testimony. He asked us to focus on safety and the integrity of the NASA process for safety assessment. W e reviewed each point made by the Inspector General. We reviewed NASA's response to each point, and NASA's actions to assure that safe operations would occur on the Mir.

We had in-depth discussion with the Inspector General, with the leaders of the NASA Safety Assessment Process and some of the astronauts who have flown as Mir crewmembers. One of the things that it's very important to recognize is that the problems that have occurred and potentially could occur in the future, can be separated into two categories. There are those that can be looked at as major safety risks, with potential life-threatening ramifications, and we identify in this category two. That would be an uncontrolled fire and a rapid decompression. The other problems, such as coolant tube leaks, computer failures, these problems can interrupt Mir operations, they can cause crew discomfort, potentially they require a departure from Mir in the Soyuz, but it's important to recognize, they're not life threatening, and most of the problems are in this category.

Because of separating problems in this manner, we reviewed the fire and the decompression events experienced on Mir in reasonable detail. We concluded that the corrective action that's been taken makes future use of the oxygen generator canisters and the probability of a repeat of the decompression incident to be acceptable risk. We concluded that safety issues cited in the Inspector General's report had been analyzed and assessed by the NASA Phase I team. We concluded that NASA has an adequate safety assessment process, which is complete and thorough. We found no safety concerns that were not being properly handled by NASA.

We did make some recommendations to enhance the safety process. These included additional failure analysis of the oxygen canisters that caused the fire, future failure analysis and corrective actions for problems that might occur in the future need to be more timely, and the Safety and Mission Assurance inputs of the U.S. astronauts who have flown as Mir crewmembers should be a formal part of the review process for critical shuttle-Mir functions.

In summary, our focus was on safety, and we found no safety reason that should prevent the next shuttle-Mir mission from proceeding.

Thank you.


Q: Discuss the Russian philosophy of failure-to-maintenance. Essentially to use a system until it fails. Is this consistent with U.S. safety standards?

STAFFORD: The philosophy of fail-to-maintenance is used on certain systems. The time-changeout is also used. For example, they do change out the Soyuz every six months, they change out the pressure suits on a given timeframe. But where you have a series of complete redundancies, they will let that go until finally you start to have a malfunction, you have other systems to work that, and then you'll repair it. This is somewhat like you do on certain efforts on a ship, sometimes like you do on certain efforts you do on an aircraft. I think we have to face that for the long-term duration that we're going to have on the new International Space Station.

Q: Hasn't that philosophy led to problems getting more serious than had these systems been changed out before they failed?

STAFFORD: Let's take the fire first. The oxygen-generating canisters is the standard canister that is used for the Russian submarines, exactly. And they've used those for well over a decade. They have activated well over 10,000 of those canisters, and we had this one failure. The analysis still doesn't show exactly what was the total nature of the failure. It appears there's a possibility that there was an O ring missing and there could have been some organic contamination. This is an ongoing analysis and Mr. Young talked about that. That is one effort. The other one that brought so much visibility was the collision of the Progress with respect to striking the Spektr. Now, that was an experiment that was done, and it was not well coordinated, and the independent Russian oversight group, chaired by academician Utkin, we've had meetings on that. T heir conclusion was the same as ours that basically there was a series of problems that led to this, but furthermore that no more experiments like that will be conducted and that near or close-proximity operations to the space station by Russians, America, or in the future whether it's the Japanese, or the European Space Agents, will all be coordinated and approved by every group. So a lot of positive things have come out of this. I can nearly assure you, you will not have another collision like this.

YOUNG: If I might add to that. First off it's important to recognize, as I said in my opening remarks, that there are mission-critical problems and there are other problems, and I don't mean to minimize other problems, but they are in different categories. Two things need to be followed from that. One is, both the fire and the decompression event, I would look at as spikes. I mean, they're not aging events. The canisters are new each time they're used. That could have occurred at any time in the mission. The decompression, General Stafford was just mentioning, that occurred at that particular time because that's when the event was taking place. But they were not aging events. They are spikes that could have occurred at any time. The other thing I think is important to recognize when you try to trade what you refer to as "our" approach relative to "their" approach, is that they're operating in a different environment. With the shuttle, I think what you say is true. The tendency is not to operate to failure because it goes up and it comes down and it has the advantage of being available to all of the ground capability that's at KSC to test systems, to examine systems, and change out systems that are necessary. A large maintenance and operation capability. On the Mir there are three people that have to do that. And its something that we are going to have learn as we go forward with International Space Station as to how we transition from the shuttle way of thinking about such anomalies to t he space station way of thinking about them, because we can't spare for everything, and we can't have the maintenance and operation people onboard the station handle everything. What I'm really trying to come around to is I think there's a commonality in the way that we will have to do it on the space station with the way it's done today with the Russians, that you've got to worry a lot about those situations that are critical, be properly spared, change things out before they fail, but other activities you're going to have to be more tolerant and recognize that they're not mission-critical, life-threatening kind of events.

GOLDIN: Before we take the next question I'd like to make a comment about one of the reasons I selected General Stafford to lead this independent team. He is among the worlds' experts in rendezvous and docking. During the Apollo program, we had Gemini and Mercury and he did a number of very important docking missions. He's probably one of the few people who did docking while looking down at the glare of the Earth, and it is through the keen eyes of General Stafford that he was able to help the Russians understand why the collision occurred. Very few people in the world could have identified this and I'm very proud to have selected General Stafford, with his unbelievable insight. We wanted purely technical people with integrity, and he demonstrated that over and over again.

Q: Mr. Goldin, the Chairman of the House Science Committee has probably been one of the most visible and vocal critics in recent days. He's a big supporter of the space station effort. He has said if you decide to go with this mission and continue presence on Mir, that he'd call you before his committee and ask you to justify your decision. What are you going to tell him?

GOLDIN: First I will tell him I am fully responsible and accountable for the lives of the American astronauts, and I would never do anything that I felt would risk their lives. The second thing I would tell him is I welcome his oversight. His committee has made NASA perform to higher levels. He asks very good questions, and he causes us to think deeply and I will tell him "Thank you" for the oversight you're giving us, and I'll explain to him what's involved and the process we undertook, and why we believe it is safe. And we'll leave it to the American people and the Committee to decide if we made the right decision. Because this is not NASA's space program. It belongs to the American people. It's the American people's program.

Q: General Stafford, on the Progress collision, what we hear here is that, in fact the cosmonaut crew did overload the Progress, and that changed the center of gravity of the spacecraft, but the ground process was highly culpable in that there wasn't proper documentation, any significant training, all of the groundwork that has to go into an operation in space. Is that the fundamental cause as you understand it?

STAFFORD: It was a series of events that took place, starting with the ground targeting and the trajectory was nominal, but it was the high end of nominal. The performance on the Progress thrusters was low. The commander was only supposed to fire it for a given period of time. He had no range rate, only secondarily could he arrive at it, and then when I saw that the TV camera that he had available to him was coming down, I remembered that I did the first, I think the only, overhead rendezvous ever done in this country to simulate a lunar abort when I did that on Gemini IX, and after that I told NASA we should not do this except in an emergency because the background goes past you so fast it's unbelievable trying to get a reference. I'm saying rendezvous, not just stationkeeping. There's a whole difference. You can fly around, but when you have to do critical maneuvers. So basically the targeting from the ground set the velocity at the very high end of nominal, the thrusters on the Soyuz were within spec, were at the low end of the nominal. Coming down over the ground it was very difficult for him to look at a square and determine how far it is. He had absolutely no range rate. And furthermore, when you change the out-of-plane velocity on the Progress it adds to the velocity vector for the Mir. You had combined that with the fact that the last time the commander had simulated a rendezvous was about 135 or 136 days before the maneuver was attempted, and furthermore the only simulation the commander had was to look at a black sky, when actually he was looking at the ground coming past with clouds, so you had a whole series of circumstances there that really made it most difficult. And then at the last I think he made one input that was slightly the wrong way. But the problem was all in the setup and the criteria. You learn from every event and we said no more experiments like this, and any proximity with respect to Mir or the International Space Station will be coordinated and understood by all members involved. So there's a lot to be learned from that, and when they singled out the commander, after I really dug into it and found out what was going on, there was whole series of things that contributed to that. We understand it and we are sure that that will not happen again.

Q: Mr. Goldin, I'm sure you'd agree that the follow-on assessment process for the remaining two flights would be just as rigorous. Have you had any discussions with the Russians that perhaps the remaining two flights after STS-86 might have a change in character where the emphasis was on as much starting a decomissioning process of Mir and turning the direction even more strongly toward the new international station.

GOLDIN: Let me reiterate. The issues for NASA are the safety of the astronauts involved and productive science, operations and engineering knowledge, to help us build a better space station. This is our intent. We're going to constantly monitor the availability of power, the quality and the backups we have for all the systems pertaining to flight, the procedures and the training, and we will continue. We have had discussions with the Russians. I have not been involved in the detailed discussions, but I did talk to Mr. Kepchev about an orderly decommissioning of the Mir space station. We believe it'll take about three flights of the Progress to bring enough fuel to properly deorbit the Mir space station so it lands in a place after burning up through the atmosphere where there aren't people and it will not represent a hazard. This process and the planning for this process is ongoing investigation right now, but we will look at each and every mission, and if it's safe and productive, we will continue. The mission after David Wolf is a very crucial mission because we're going to be bringing up a modified bioreactor and we're going to try for the first time to build cancer tumors of female breast cancer. And we're also going to attempt in those tumors to see if we can construct the blood vessels that go within those tumors. This is very, very important research because people on the ground want to understand things that we could uniquely do in space and better the life of human beings. So as long as it's safe and productive, we are going to continue. We're going to be very rational, and if we need a fourth and a fifth independent assessment, by God, we're going to do it. We're going to tap the best minds in this county. And we NASA have no pride on having to invent it ourselves. And when mistakes are pointed out, we correct them. I'd like to thank the IG. She did a study, very quick study, and found some issues, and because she came to see me, and told me she was concerned, I called up Mr. Young and said, "You know what. Let's not just trust this to NASA. Let's get some outside eyes on it." So at NASA it's safety, it's productivity of the science and engineering, and that will determine what we do.

Q: I'm curious as to why you think there has been so much of an uproar over the events that have taken place on Mir. You may have gotten something involved with it in your previous statement. Have we just been lulled into a sense that it's too easy in space? I hate to say that we've discovered that NASA is just too good. And as we're encountering difficulties on Mir, is it just coming as too much of a surprise for people? Are we going to have to just get used to the idea that we're going to have an occasional fire, an occasional leak, an occasional collision, and just relax and get used to it?

GOLDIN: I don't think anyone should relax and get used to it. I think it's good to have a certain tension that causes us to be creative and worry about things, but to worry constructively, not to act out of fear. And, yes, space is risky, and space is dangerous. We make it as safe as possible, but when we weigh the potential benefits to America and humankind, we have no choice but to proceed. I'd like to say, when we build the International Space Station, and we start assembly, it's going to be gripping. It's going to be rough. But we're not afraid. We'll be as safe as possible. When we ultimately land people on Mars and have bases back on the Moon, it's going to be dangerous, it's going to risky, and we're not going to take it for granted, and we're not going to get comfortable with it. We're going to be constantly uneasy. We're going to get the best minds in the country and we're going to do the very best job. This is what America's about. We wouldn't be sitting in this room if courageous people didn't travel across the ocean. They knew what they were looking at, but they weren't afraid. That's the key factor. Let's not be afraid. I want to tell you a little story. I was just out at NASA Ames where we had an Open House. We expected 20,000 people and close to 250,000 people showed up. They waited in lines a half mile long because they understand about America's space program. And a woman walked up to me and she grabbed me by the arm and she said, "Mr. Goldin" - and she had tears on her cheeks - and she said, "Mr. Goldin, bring them home from Mir." I said, "We're doing everything possible to make it safe." She said, "I know, but I'm overwhelmed with concern." I said, "Go home and sleep well tonight because NASA's doing everything possible to make it safe, but I can't guarantee you it's going to be 100% safe and take pride in your nation's space program."

Q: Mr. Goldin, I'd like to know what you personally believe is the greatest hazard to our astronauts when they are aboard Mir.

GOLDIN: You know, last night, after I had all the briefings, General Stafford briefed me, Mr. Young briefed me, I talked to the NASA people, I ushered everybody out of my office and I knew that I alone was going to have to make this decision and I thought about just that question, and I though t about should we do it? The conclusion I came to is that the biggest risk is the unknown. You could plan on every last detail, but when you go into space, it's the unknown that happens, and that's why we go onboard Mir, to know what we don't know about so we can make is safer. There'll be hundreds of people on the International Space Station over decades and we want to make sure we give them the best shot at safety and it's understanding the unknown in my mind that's the biggest risk.

Q: Mr. Goldin, when, where, how, and by whom was Wolf told, and what was his reaction of your decision.

GOLDIN: First, I talked personally to David Wolf for about 20 minutes. He's a precious jewel. I don't know if you're aware of it, but he's one of the inventors of the bioreactor. He is committed to the pursuit of science, and I wanted to know how he personally felt and he told me, and I'll try and quote almost exactly, "Dan, I think the risk is greater for the ascent on the shuttle than it is on Mir, but that risk is no greater than any other flight recently and it's an acceptable risk." Last night after I sat in my office weighing the decision by myself, I took it very seriously because I know these people. I talk to them. I want to know them as human beings, not names on a manifest. And I weighted the issues. I called Will Trafton, who's the Associate Administrator for Spaceflight, I believe it was some time around 6 o'clock, and I asked him to notify the crew and to tell hem directly that I had approved the launch because I knew they shouldn't go to sleep without knowing what's happening, that the press conference would be today, but I did break the news blackout because of my tremendous respect and warmth for the people. Jim Wetherbee, the commander of that crew, is a personal friend of mine. And like most of us at NASA, we know the families, we sit around tables and drink coffee with them. We see the eyes of their children, and we wouldn't send them up if we didn't think it was safe. I don't know what David's reaction is, but when I 'm down at the Cape tonight, I will talk to him on the phone because he's in quarantine and I'll be pleased to share it with the press.

Q: Can you explain the timing of your decision point, why it occurred on the eve of a launch, why it had to be left so late, and how much of the drama that's unfolded about this decision over the last few days has been merely to reinforce to your congressional critics the diligence in which you have reviewed safety?

GOLDIN: I wouldn't want to inflict this pain on any human being that I've been going through. Believe me, I don't sleep nights, and there's only one thing that has been on my mind for weeks now, the safety of our American astronauts. We were driven by the time it took to do it right, and I told General Stafford, "Do it right." He has been at this a few months, and he just got back from Russia Saturday night, late at night, and I called him to just see if he was OK, and I woke him up. And I said, "How soon can we get together?" and he said, "I'm ready." Unfortunately I was in Russia with Vice President Gore for the Gore-Chernomirden Commission, so the earliest I could have gotten together with General Stafford was 2:00 or 2:30 yesterday because I got back yesterday morning at 3:00 in the morning and I had enough time to go home and go to sleep and freshen up and come in. With regard to Thomas Young, the IG really impressed me that she had some concerns, and she was also concerned about the process. She told me she wanted to be sure that someone outside of NASA talked to the astronauts so if there were any issues they'd be brought forth. And I took some time to think about who the right person was. I've been in the space industry for 35 years and I've known Thomas Young. He's an incredible man. He was a Director of NASA of Goddard and President of the Martin company, and he's one of the leaders of the National Academy of Engineering, which is the highest, highest honor that could be bestowed on an engineer in this country, and I asked him to disrupt his life, and I think I spoke to him just about a week ago. And if you take a look in his notes, you will see the meetings he held Saturday and Sunday. He even met with the IG for two hours to make sure he'd leave no stone unturned. He worked right up until the point he walked into my office at 4 o'clock yesterday, so there's no appearance. And, in fact, I did this because the members of Congress wanted to have the most thorough review possible, to have as many eyes as possible, and if it came late, I apologize, but we were governed by the process to assure safety and that's why we did it, but I wouldn't wish this stress on any other human being. My wife is worried about me, as are my children about the amount of time I've been spending the hours I've been gone, but I'd do it again and again and again because I love my country.

Q: The Inspector General's report seemed to question the efficacy of having all program authority centralized at Johnson Space Center. Does NASA have any plans to change that or to address her concerns?

GOLDIN: I'd like to give a shorter answer, and then I'd like Mr. Young to make a comment. We went through a very deliberate process to restructure NASA, and we believe we have the right system in place, but saying that, the IG raises an issue and we're going to look at it. And, in fact, one of the recommendations that Mr. Young made to us deals with that issue and I'd like him to talk about it.

YOUNG: Let me make a couple of comments. First off, I think one of the things the IG was really focusing upon is that you have the right checks and balances in a system, and that's certainly true wherever you have something as critical as we're talking about here. I think the checks and balances are not unique as to whether functions are at Headquarters or at a center, but it's whether or not the checks and balances (1) exist, secondly whether they're of a high quality, and third is, are they of high integrity. So that was something that we specifically looked at. There's no question that the first order of any activity like this will be the implementing organization, and that's the Phase I team that did the detailed analysis. But then there is at Johnson and also at Headquarters in Fred Gregory's activity, an independent look, and then General Stafford's activity is another check and balance, independent look. So the first comment I would make is that I think it is a system that has adequate checks and balances and I don't think, whether they're at one location or another is the critical factor. The other thing that the Inspector General raised is that at that the Johnson Space Center, is there an environment that encourages free and open discussion. We took a look at that to the degree we could in the time. We talked to the Inspector General about her findings in that regard. We talked to each of the people with whom we interacted about that particular subject, and the other thing I really have to say is, having had the privilege of running large organizations, achieving the right balance between control and free and open discussion is always delicate. I expect it's true in your all's organizations in that regard. But it's something that requires constant attention, so we do have a recommendation in our report that there be some additional examination of the subject, not because we've identified problems that we think affect the safety of this mission, but fundamentally because it's something you should continually pay attention to and she had some items that were worthy of consideration, so our recommendation is that this be looked at in some additional detail. And one of the things I think you do in organizations is you kind of constantly make sure everybody knows that you want the bad news as well as the good news, and I think that that's just an attitude to get forward in an organization. So that's one of the items we included in our report.

Q: Mr. Goldin, would there have been any impact on future U.S.-Russian cooperation had your decision gone the other way, and did that play any role whatsoever in your decision?

GOLDIN: Let me answer it this way. Our only concern, my only concern, was the safety of the U.S. astronauts and the productivity of the mission, and that did not factor in. It shouldn't factor. As the NASA Administrator I worry about science and technology and safety.

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Curator: Kim Dismukes
Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty