General Stafford, General Leonov, Mr. Komarov, esteemed colleagues, good afternoon!
I am honored to be invited to the celebration of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project’s 40th anniversary, here at the wonderful Museum of Cosmonautics.
It has been a great pleasure for me to visit the museum and to view its impressive exhibits representing the history of both the Russian space program and international cooperation in space.
One of the ‘firsts’ accomplished in space jointly by our two countries in July 1975 was managing the challenge of docking the American Apollo and the Russian Soyuz – two spacecraft with different atmospheres. The overall time of forty-six hours flown in space together as one crew was a great historic accomplishment for the technical teams on the ground and the courageous five men in space.
The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project was an indispensable technical precursor of the Mir-Shuttle program in the 1990s, and the current International Space Station program. The United States and Russia are still using significant engineering achievements of that joint project. From a human standpoint, it is highly notable that the two commanders, Tom Stafford and Alexey Leonov, have become close friends and have maintained their friendship all these years.
Following those first steps, today we have U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko onboard the International Space Station, they have committed to working together during one year in space. Next week there is a launch of a new expedition to the International Space Station consisting of American, Russian, and Japanese crew members. These expeditions show how the entire world benefits when the International Space Station partners work together to make gains in the sciences and explore the furthest reaches of our universe.
Let me once again thank Head of Roscosmos Igor Komarov and Director of the Museum Ms. Natalia Artyukhina for organizing this wonderful commemorative event.