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Reagan-Gorbachev space agreement.

Reagan-Gorbachev space agreement

Getting the U.S.-Soviet Cooperative Agreement on the Exploration and Use of Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes signed last year was an uphill struggle for its advocates on the American side. Such joint space activities still do not come easily, but last week at the Moscow summit, President Reagan and Soviet Secretary General Gorbachev agreed to expand the scope of the pact.

The two leaders' agreement approves "exchanging flight opportunities for scientific instruments to fly on each other's spacecraft." Besides endorsing increased exchanges of space-science data, it also speaks of allowing the scientists themselves to take part in missions operated by the other side.

The agreement does not go so far as to endorse specific missions, but it does include exchanging "results of independent national studies of future unmanned solar system exploration missions." It avoids setting forth plans for joint human exploration of Mars, but "scientific missions to the Moon and Mars" were identified as areas of possible bilateral and international cooperation."

The initial version of the U.S.-Soviet space agreement had been in effect for a decade when Reagan allowed it to lapse in 1982 as a response to Soviet activities in Poland. Many U.S. space scientists began objecting to that decision even before it went into effect, and in 1984 Congress unanimously urged the President to "endeavor, at the earliest possible date," to reestablish the agreement.

Scientists from both sides had been exchanging data from time to time, but only as individuals, not on any basis that smacked of government-to-government cooperation. The few U.S. researchers who participated in the Soviet mission that sent unmanned spacecraft to Comet Halley, for example, were in a sense walking on eggs.

The language of the joint communique from the summit at least seems to suggest a less hostile approach.
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Author:Eberhart, J.
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 11, 1988
Words:304
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