15 Sign Pact for Space Station

Article excerpt

Senior government officials from 15 countries yesterday met in Washington to sign an agreement launching an international space station.

Acting Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, along with representatives of Russia, Canada and the 11 member governments of the European Space Agency, signed the 1998 Intergovernmental Agreement on Space Station Cooperation at the State Department. Japan will sign on later.

"We will change the course of human history," said Daniel Goldin, head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He described the proposed International Space Station (ISS) as a "city in space."

Yuri Koptev, head of the Russian Space Agency, said the agreement was the end of "senseless competition" in the space arena.

In 1995, the Russians were given $400 million in American aid for their part in building the ISS and to cover the "training costs" of U.S. astronauts serving on the Russian space station Mir. But no agreement was signed.

Today, that $400 million has disappeared, but the Russian parts of the space station are still less than half-finished.

The new agreement replaces a previous space station agreement involving the United States, Europe, Japan and Canada signed in 1988. It also includes the participation of Russia.

"I think the station is what we should be doing," said Sen. John H. Glenn, Ohio Democrat, who was one of the distinguished guests along with astronauts from other member countries.

In 1962, Mr. Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth, in the Mercury capsule Friendship 7. …