On Tuesday, October 31, a new era of permanent human presence in space is
scheduled to begin at the place, the orbital inclination and the time
recommended seven years ago by a committee of civilians.

The place is the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where the space race
began with the launch of Sputnik on October 4, 1957. The orbital
inclination is 51.6 degrees, the orbit which permits the use of the Soyuz
emergency crew return vehicle. And the time is October, 2000, when the
17-member Advisory Committee on the Redesign of the Space Station predicted
the beginning of permanent human presence in space.

Charles M. Vest, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
headed the redesign committee and wrote the n June, 1993 report
recommending that the U.S. use a Russian crew return vehicle and the
Russian orbital inclination of 51.6 degrees.

Vest commented today, “As Chairman of the committee chartered by the White
House with evaluating the Space Station program, I congratulate NASA and
the international program. I am very pleased that we have achieved the
major milestone of launching the first crew to begin a permanent human
presence in space. It is a huge undertaking that has managed to keep on
schedule, a considerable achievement.”

MIT Professor Edward F. Crawley, head of the MIT aeronautics and
astronautics department, and a member of the advisory committee, commented,
“I think the wisdom of the move (to a 51.6 degree orbit) is apparent. Under
the current flight rules and budget, we would not have a space station now
if it weren’t in 51.6 degrees. We must have a lifeboat present, and the
Soyuz is all there is available, and it only goes to 51.6 degrees -or

Vest added, “MIT takes great pride in the fact that the commander of the
first crew to live aboard the International Space Station is an MIT
graduate and that the first active experiment to be performed on the
station was developed at MIT.”

Commander William M. Shepherd in 1978 earned two MIT masters degrees in
mechanical engineering and ocean engineering. The crew will perform an
experiment about controlling motion and vibration in space travel.
(http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/tt/2000/sep13/mace.html )


Contact: Kenneth Campbell, MIT News Office, kdc@mit.edu