8 Oct 2018 19:26

NASA chief wants to see Russia as key partner in lunar program

MOSCOW/WASHINGTON. Oct 8 (Interfax) - The director of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Jim Bridenstine, on Monday stressed the importance of continuing space cooperation with Russia.

"This is a long partnership that goes back to 1975, even before 1975. It's critical that we keep it strong. Both countries have an interest in doing more in space than we have ever done before. And even though our countries don't align on everything and our interests are sometimes divergent, we've always been able to cooperate on space," Bridenstine said in a Twitter video from the Red Square in Moscow.

"We've been partners going all the way back to the Apollo-Soyuz program and then the Shuttle-Mir program and now, of course, we both benefit from the International Space Station; and next we want to go even further, we want to go to the Moon and we want Russia to be a major partner with us," Bridenstine said.

Every U.S. astronaut, who goes to Russia before being sent to the International Space Station from Baikonur, visits the Red Square to lay flowers at the graves of Yuri Gagarin and other Russian cosmonauts beside the Kremlin wall, the NASA chief said.

He arrived in Russia from Bremen, Germany, where he attended an international aeronautical congress on October 1-5. On October 11 he will be at Baikonur for the launch of a rocket that will send the cosmonaut Alexei Ovechkin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague to the ISS.

At Baikonur the NASA director is also expected to meet with Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin for the first time.