CONTACT: Craig Stevens

(202) 225-3671

WASHINGTON, DC — Today the Russian media reported that the
Progress-M1 docked with the abandoned Mir space station in an attempt to
prepare the station to be remanned by cosmonauts in the near future.

Congressman Dave Weldon (R-Palm Bay), Vice Chairman of the House
Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, expressed concern about the latest
attempt to salvage Mir and released the following statement:

“It is
regrettable that Russia has again broken its promise to its partners in the
International Space Station (ISS) program. We were told many months ago
that Mir would be de-orbited, now we are hearing from the Russians that Mir
will stay aloft until at least August, which diverts financial and human
resources from Russia’s critical contribution to ISS, the Service

“Moreover, the launch vehicle, as well as the Progress itself, was
to be used for ISS. This is a reckless frittering of scarce hardware and is
an irresponsible act by the Russians that compromises the agreements with us
and our other ISS international partners.

“While I recognize that Mir is a
source of pride for Russia and its people, it is important for them to own
up to the commitment they have made to the ISS. Russia’s continued delays
and broken promises have resulted in delays that have affected not just the
United States but ISS partners around the world. In my own Congressional
district, Space Shuttles have been idled due to Russia’s inability to
fulfill its commitments.

“It does make one wonder about Russia’s long-term
commitment to this project, and I firmly believe we must continue, even if
it means that Russia has a significantly diminished role. Therefore, I urge
the White House and NASA to start preparations now for the Interim Control
Module (ICM) so we can continue with ISS assembly in late 2000 and early
2001. If we do not start launch preparations now, we will again be held
hostage to continued Russian delays in the future.”