NASA Shuttle-Mir Oral
Edited Oral History Transcript
Interviewed by Rebecca Wright
Bethesda, Maryland – 19 April 1999
is April 19, 1999. We're visiting with Dr. Brian Dailey in Bethesda,
Maryland, as part of the Johnson Space Center Oral History Project.
The interview is being conducted by Rebecca Wright, assisted by Carol
Today's subject is the Shuttle-Mir Project. We would like for you
to begin by telling us how you got involved with the Phase 1 operation.
Good. Thank you. I first came to the White House on June 1, 1992,
succeeding Mark [J.] Albrecht, who was the first executive secretary
of the National Space Council under President [George H. W.] Bush.
I, of course, came from the Senate Armed Services Committee, where
we had had quite an extensive background and exposure to Russian space
issues on the committee, having gone over there with the members of
the committee on two occasions.
The situation as I found it coming in on June 1st was that there was
a lot of preparation going on for the summit between President Bush
and [Russian] President [Boris] Yeltsin, which was to take place,
I believe—I’m not certain about this—but around
the 15th or 16th of June. There were a number of interagency meetings
that were taking place.
The most notable subject matter of those meetings was the decision
on whether or not to allow a Russian launch vehicle to launch a Western,
in this case United States, satellite, because heretofore, in '92,
that is, there was a strong hesitancy to allow what was called non-market
economies the right to get into the commercial launch services business,
believing that they were not driven by any kind of market prices;
rather, they were just simply driven by whatever they wanted to market.
In that sense, there was no way to measure how much a particular launch
vehicle cost under those kinds of socialist conditions.
China, however, was an exception to that rule back in, I think, '88,
'89 time period. We had approved a China launch of an American satellite
back then, and this was going to be the first time they actually approved
a Russian one. It was specifically the launching of an INMARSAT [International
Mobile Satellite Organization] satellite on a Russian launch vehicle.
That became the key interagency issue, whether or not to allow them
to come in.
The Russians were pushing for actually more than just simply the launch
of one U.S. satellite. U.S. satellites, parenthetically, are the vast
majority of satellites that go up in the telecommunications business,
and most of the satellites were all focused on launching to geosynchronized
orbit at that time. Meridians [phonetic], Global Stars, and the things
we know today in low Earth orbit were not even spoken much about then,
because they were not firmed-up projects. But certainly geosynchronous
satellites historically have always been the key commercial niche
in the market for launch vehicles, commercial launch vehicles. The
Russians, with their new capabilities, particularly in the Proton,
became the key vehicle that they were trying to get permission to
launch this particular INMARSAT satellite.
The issue was pretty much resolved. Other things were coming up at
the time that were becoming additive agenda items to the summit. The
summit was supposed to have focused almost exclusively on START [Strategic
Arms Reduction Treaty]. That was supposed to be the big headline issue,
one of the big items that, after negotiations, were complete, that
would have been the keystone upon which most of the discussions focused
between President Bush and President Yeltsin. As it turned out, they
did not complete as much as they hoped to complete on START activities,
and so many of us were thinking specifically about what else we could
put into the summit to expand the summit's interest to be far beyond
that and maybe get into additional issues. Space was considered one
of those areas.
There have been some assertions—in fact, a recent book on this
issue asserted that that motivation was based primarily on ways to
help President Bush get elected. I really can't think of anything
further from the case, and I'm not even sure how that really came
up as a primary driver. I think anybody who's spent time in the White
House, certainly anybody who's spent time in American politics, knows
that space is not going to be a big enough issue, at least not in
the eighties and nineties, that it would really be something that
would make or break a President. But I think, more importantly, the
issue came down to what other kind of news items could come out of
the summit that would be more positive.
It was obviously very late in the game by the time any of this thinking
was going on, that the settlement of the issues related to INMARSAT
in Russian launches were coming to a close, so it was probably around
the first week, second week of June, so very, very close to the summit
date. We were kind of all scrambling around, thinking about things
that we thought would be very useful at the Space Council, and, in
particular, to see if we could get moving on. Of course, the expectation
back then was that there was no question that President Bush was going
to be reelected. It was not a matter of if; it's a matter of just
by how much.
Bill Clinton at the time, in the June time frame, was still a bit
of an anomaly or an unknown, and therefore was not considered to be
seriously a challenge to the President, and the President, in the
polls, was still enjoying the great success of the Persian Gulf War,
and therefore was not considered go be much threat to his presidency
at the time.
So what we were really looking to was a second term, and what things
we could do in the second term today that could make it a more successful
second term in the area of space and space cooperation.
I might add that one of the issues associated, of course, to the INMARSAT
issue is whether or not, once you've done one, then it certainly means
that they have a foot in the door and they start doing more and more,
so that was a policy issue surrounding it. Once you've given them
this right to launch, you're going to be hard pressed to take away
that right in the future.
But anyway, that said, we decided to look at other things. George
[W. S.] Abbey at the time was one of the members of the staff of the
National Space Council, and so George and I and Liz Prestridge [phonetic],
who was one of my other assistants on the Council, were beginning
to try to formulate other potential things that we could broach at
this late date and hopefully get on to the summit calendar at the
Dan [Daniel S.] Goldin and I were very close in working on these issues,
which was actually quite a relief based on the prior relationship
between Dick [Richard H.] Truly and Mark Albrecht, where NASA and
the Space Council were like oil and water. That got very much fixed
when Dan Goldin came on board and I came on board, not because of
me, myself, but Mark, as well, had just as much success with Dan as
I did. But I had known Dan when he was at TRW [Thompson Ramo Wooldridge,
Inc.] and therefore already had a working relationship with him. We
all had the same view that, one, NASA had to change and there needed
to be some serious mind-set changes at NASA. George Abbey, of course,
had always felt that way as well. So the Council and the NASA administrator's
office became very close in the working relationship, in trying to
change the agendas going forward.
We had had some press and some recommendations from Capitol Hill,
most notably Barbara Mikulski's office, that had some legislative
language in the bills at the time that reflected an encouragement
that we find more ways to expand our relationship with Russian, since
space and military byproducts associated with it were things that
could be either commercialized or civilianized to the point where
people were encouraging us to look at that.
George Abbey—I will not take credit for this, because George
did most of the detailed thinking on it, but George was instrumental,
I think, in coming up with one of the key ideas in what we could do
with the Russians at this particular conference. It was literally
a situation in which George and I were downstairs about to leave the
old Executive Office Building when he came up with the recommendation.
I tried to get it put on the agenda, the idea of doing more cooperation
with the Russians on the Shuttle Program. I thought it was a very
neat idea. I did, however, have one reservation; it was unclear to
me what the astronaut corps was going to think about this, since these
were things that revolve around safety first and foremost. Keep in
mind even though it was 1992, it was still only six years away from
the Challenger [STS-51L] disaster, that safety was still a key item
in people's minds.
The White House staff, I would say, working through the Vice President
now, Vice President [Dan] Quayle, was not particularly receptive,
but open-minded to trying to add something new. It wasn't the idea
as much as it was the lateness of the idea. In that kind of a process
place, people want to really have a paper heritage as to how things
came to be, and coming up in the last five or six days of this type
of situation didn't really fit the mold, so therefore there was some
resistance. I don't want to even think a "Not Invented Here"
situation. Really just not one that was readily accepted. The Vice
President very much liked the idea and wanted us to find ways to continue
to do it.
But in saying that, one of the key impediments that also surfaced
on this particular issue was the State Department. A gentleman by
the name of Reginald Bartholomew, who was at that time my counterpart,
the Office of the Executive Secretary of the National Space Council
holds an executive-level rank of three, EL-3, which is equivalent
to an Under Secretary of State or Under Secretary of Defense. So my
counterpart was Reginald Bartholomew in the context of space issues.
The resistance from him and the State Department was very strong,
very much opposed to this, I think mainly because it was a "Not
Invented Here" situation. I don't hold much policy concerns on
their part. They were certainly open-minded to wanting to do things
with Russia, even expand things, and thought maybe it was best just
to wait and then work this as a side issue coming out of the conference,
maybe we'll get some wording into the joint statement that led to
a path of later talking about this, but didn't want to settle on this
being a main item, that there were all sorts of interagency issues
that they asserted or stated would be a real concern here.
I, at the time, was a little bit disappointed with that, and felt
that this was really an opportunity that couldn't be lost, because,
as we all know, what is very important, as we all knew, those in the
policy circles, knew that it was important to have that kind of explicit
wording in a joint statement, that one could use through the rest
of the bureaucracy to get things moving. If it was as vague as he
implied he would like to have it, this would be one that just could
be a year away, if not more. Knowing that, I decided to be bold enough
to try to get this issue front and center.
It just so happens one night—I don't even know what the night
was, but it was sometime in the second week of June, there was a reception
at an embassy, and I happened to meet Kathy Sawyer [phonetic] there
from the Washington Post, who was someone who was very much focused
on the U.S. civil space program. Kathy is a big supporter of the idea
of trying to expand as much activities in space as possible and, I
think I could safely say, even thinking that the Russian relationship
would be important in the future as well.
The situation was such that Kathy had asked me what kind of things
were going on in the summit, and I happened to mention this idea,
which she thought was a really neat idea, but also explaining to her
that it was one of those things that, as in any bureaucracy, as anything
she's seen in this U.S. bureaucracy, that there would obviously be
different views, and it wasn't having much success in getting the
attention of the White House staff to the point where they would bring
it up to the President directly and see what the President thought
So Kathy interviewed me a bit more on this issue, on background, and
I think it was the next day or the day after, she came out with an
article on this very issue, saying that there was a stalemate and
a real problem. My impression—I don't know this for a fact—my
impression is that the President and Quayle, in particular, took the
issue up together and discussed it, and thought it was a very good
idea, and it became a viable part of the agenda, and was later agreed
on by Boris Yeltsin and George Bush as an item that there would be
future expansion. So from a bureaucratic politics standpoint, it was
one of the early successes in trying to get things moving down the
I might say that as part of the process leading up to it, I mentioned
that George Abbey was going to check the astronaut corps, who at the
time said, in principle, they don't mind the idea, but there were
a lot of issues associated with it. Safety issues, as I said before,
certainly came up as a key concern. He said he had taken care of the
astronaut corps. As you know, George is so historically associated
with that and has been such a godfather over that particular activity,
that I had every bit of confidence that George would work the issue
very effectively, and he did, as he always does.
Then, of course, we also had another problem, and that is that the
National Space Council was really much like the National Security
Council in terms of its process and how it handles things. It isn't
so much the initiator of policy initiatives as much as it is the drafter
of policy. While we might dictate that it is the intentions of the
agencies within the U.S. Government associated with the space program,
be it DOD [Department of Defense] or NASA or, frankly, even NOAA [National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] or the FAA [Federal Aviation
Administration], since they have a role in space flight, it was general
form not to initiate specific recommendations.
So Dan Goldin and I, in one of our many late night meetings, he used
to come over at the end of the day and sit around the White House,
and we would discuss what was going on and what we needed to work
on. That's how close the relationship was. Almost every evening, George
and he would come over. George would frequently spend a lot of time
over there at NASA, and we'd oftentimes go out and have dinner as
well, depending upon what was going on that night, or go to a reception
But anyway, we were recalling this whole situation and George's idea.
I asked him, rather than I make this recommendation, that he send
me a letter with this particular initiative so it would be initiated
from NASA to me, and therefore I could take it. My appropriate role
was to coordinate and adjudicate and review and coordinate throughout
the government a particular initiative that was a recommendation on
the part of an agency head, in this case Dan Goldin. So that was,
by way of background, partly what led up to the way we did this activity.
We later had, at the summit—I, again, forgot which date it was,
it was the 16th, probably—we had a breakfast in the Blair House
with Boris Yeltsin. It was chaired on the American side by the Vice
President, so it was Vice President Quayle and President Yeltsin,
the purpose of which, of course, was to talk only exclusively about
space cooperation. Since the Vice President was the chair of the National
Space Council, it was his prerogative to hold such a meeting. In the
meeting was Grachev [phonetic], who I believe was the Minister of
Defense at the time, a number of other big wigs in the Russian Government.
I think the Deputy Foreign Minister was there as well.
There was also the notable absence of the fact that Yuri Koptev was
not at this particular breakfast. Now, you have to keep in mind that
the Russian Space Agency was sort of nonexistent until about two or
three months before this summit meeting. I'm being approximate here.
It could actually be more than that. It could be less than that. But
Yuri came from the Ministry of Heavy Industry, which, of course, is
always the codeword for defense products. In this case, he was responsible
for the space program. He assembled two or three people to form up
to that point which was the Russian Space Agency.
The Russian Space Agency was really quite novel in terms of any kind
of exposure to the West, and he was my counterpart, but he was also
Dan Goldin's counterpart, because there was no counterpart to me exactly,
and yet there was no counterpart to even Dan Goldin there, more so
him than me, though, but the reason why there was no counterpart,
of course, is that there really had been no budget assigned to it.
He was sort of putting together his agency. It was unclear where it
was going to lead.
We thought Yuri was extremely important, though, to make him as a
critical success factor going forward. Sounds a little odd, but at
the time you have to also keep in mind that there were a number of
industry initiatives going on. I want to be careful to use "industry"
in quotes when I'm talking about the Russian side, but certainly on
the U.S. side. Rockwell Corporation was working out a docking mechanism
that could be used either on Space Station activities or other things
like Shuttle dockings to Mir, even. They were working directly with
NPO Energia, Yuri Semenov [phonetic], and he was a rather interesting
individual, to say the least, but Yuri representing, again in quotes,
the Russian "industry," knowing full well that they really
are government industry, nonetheless, was extremely well connected,
and from an industry standpoint, seemed like a logical [unclear] for
them to negotiate.
But, nonetheless, Yuri Semenov wanted to negotiate directly with the
Russian Government. I was very, very apprehensive about that and very
concerned. For one thing, there was some intelligence reports that
I had seen at the time that made me wonder about what some of the
activities were that Energia was doing, and I obviously can't go any
further than that, but suffice it to say that it made me very concerned
that we, as a government, should not be probably going head to head
with them in any kind of negotiation, but rather should let them work
with U.S. industry as appropriate, but we needed to find our appropriate
counterpart, and Yuri Koptev, in our mind, turned out to be a person
that we could do business with.
We had spent some time with Yuri through the summit leading-up situation
and, therefore, started to feel very comfortable with him, thought
he was a man of integrity, and I think he is a man of integrity, that
we were able to think, well, maybe that's our counterpart, that's
who we ought to deal with. So we made sure we bifurcated this activity.
People want to talk to industry, in this case Semenov, and, say, Rockwell
or any other company, let them talk like that. We're going to talk
with Yuri Koptev.
Well, Yuri wasn't there at this breakfast, and so Dan Goldin took
it upon himself to get up and—I forgot who he went to talk to
in the meeting, but he went and tried to find out where Yuri was and
get him invited to the table. If you look at the official photographs
of the breakfast, there is no Yuri Koptev at the table, but Dan was
successful, and halfway—or I should say by a third of the way
through the breakfast, they set up another table setting for Yuri,
and he ultimately sat at the table, and that's where we started to
discuss some of the major activities.
Keep in mind we hadn't really nailed down the final language for the
joint communique on Russian cooperation, so this breakfast was intended
to kind of finalize or let the ink dry, so to speak, on this particular
activity, but it wasn't a done deal. So we had a few things we had
to go over. We didn't take it for granted that this was going to end
up in the communique.
I think I'll limit my memory to that, because that's pretty much everything
I remember of importance in that meeting. I'm sure we discussed a
wide range and set of issues. I think the breakfast lasted about an
hour to an hour and a half, something along that line, and ultimately
led up to the final press release and, better than that, of course,
the joint communique initiating it.
One thing that was agreed to out of that meeting is that Dan Goldin
and I would fly to Russia very quickly after that, probably in the
July time frame, I think it was, and we would have follow-up meetings
to begin to put into place and detail the wording of the agreement
to make it a real program. Of course, being the person that I am,
I wanted to make certain we pushed that really quickly and got it
nailed down. That was pretty much it in terms of everything up to
the summit, up to and including the summit. I must say it was a pretty
fast-moving first two weeks for me on the job, but, nonetheless, it
was a quite interesting time. We ultimately went over to Russia.
I don't know if there's anything you want to ask me in that context
before moving on to Russia, but I'll be glad to stop there for a second.
Had you had prior experience working with the Russians before this
One of my Ph.D. fields is Soviet foreign policy, and diplomatic history
was another one. Of course, in diplomatic history you learned a lot
about Russian heritage and diplomatic tactics, and, of course, in
Soviet foreign policy I learned quite a bit about it. One of my other
Ph.D. fields was in defense. My main one was in defense studies, and
I learned a lot about Soviet military history, and took a Russian
course in the context of getting my Ph.D.
I had made one trip over to Russia in 1976 and actually took the Transiberian
Express all the way across Russia, so I got a good feel for the country.
I didn't get back to Russia again until about—I think it was
1989, 1990, was the first trip, when Jim [James] Woolsey [phonetic],
who at that time was the ambassador to the CFE talks, Conventional
Forces in Europe talks, and he and I were working closely on trying
to develop some feedback channel, since I worked at the Senate, some
feedback channel to the Russians on how serious our positions were
on various things, knowing full well the Senate Armed Services Committee
would be the committee of jurisdiction in the approval process of
the treaty, consent and advice on this particular treaty.
Then from there I took a number of other trips to Russia, mainly with
congressional delegations, Senator [Sam] Nunn once and Senator [Richard]
Lugar, later on with Senator [Strom] Thurmond, as well as Carl Levin,
who is now the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. We
spent a lot of time on Russian conversion, and I had a lot of experience
helping to write the language on the Nunn-Lugar Act that was designed
primarily to find ways to provide financing to Russian companies as
a way to transition them from a military production standpoint to
more commercial. So I had, relative to most people in government,
I guess, quite a bit of experience dealing with them.
Since then, I've had a lot of experience in dealing with them. When
I went to Lockheed Corporation in 1993, I became the person on this
venture that we later did with them on Proton, later formed as LKE,
Lockheed-Khrunichev-Energia, this launch business that now has evolved
to International Launch Services. I'm the longest serving board member
on that particular activity since 1993, so I've had a chance to meet
their people in a lot more detail, including Yuri Koptev, subsequent
to my departure out of government.
That prepares you to move into your next focus, which was space. If
you would, share those first few days of those negotiations and those
times that you were there.
Well, it's an interesting problem, because we ran into the NASA bureaucracy
in its fullest extent. There was a gentleman by the name of Sam [Samuel
W.] Keller, I think his name was, and he was the associate administrator,
I believe—you may need to correct me on that—the associate
administrator for Russia [Associate Administrator for Russian Programs].
His title evolved and changed. That's why I say I think it was that
title when we first went over there to Russia. He was strong resisting
this initiative, and it was going to take forever. It was really a
problem. A lot of the other NASA officials working on Russian issues
were also sort of—I don't know if it was "Not Invented
Here." I don't want to really speculate, but I can only assure
you it was a very nasty situation.
Nonetheless, George Abbey and myself, Liz Prestridge, Gerald Messara
[phonetic], and, of course, Dan Goldin and I were flying over to Russia.
My memory is really not serving me well in terms of the sequence of
this, but there were two trips to Russia, and later the head of the
National Reconnaissance Office, Marty Vega [phonetic], and the national
intelligence officer for strategic forces joined us on one of these
trips to Russia. Larry Gershwin [phonetic] was his name, from CIA
[Central Intelligence Agency].
It was very public, very open. There was nothing secret about it at
all, not in Marty's position nor in Larry Gershwin's position. But
we brought them over, because, again, the objective here was to kind
of expand relationships in many areas. It wasn't just in the area
of civil space. So they came along with us and we actually visited
the facility down on DSS-9 [phonetic] production, SS-18 production
facility on Nepapatrosk [phonetic], where we found it particularly
interesting, since that was one of the most highly classified missile
bases around at the time, missile production facilities.
That said, though, we had a long process to go in this first trip.
In fact, I'm almost certain that the second trip is where these other
two people joined us. But we had to work up a working agenda, so to
speak, on trying to see if we can get some kind of definitive plan
put in place to have a cooperate Shuttle-Mir relationship.
Brian O'Connor was another individual, I forget what his actual title
was at the time, he was, of course, a former officer in the U.S. military,
and he was also resistant, in fact, speaking for the astronaut corps,
being a former astronaut himself. He was strongly opposed to this
activity, arguing to me that this is something that the astronaut
corps did not want to do, because in the quick due diligence they
did prior to us coming over there, since they spent some time there
before we arrived, was that there was a lot of questions about the
overall safety capabilities and performance.
In fact, it came to a head one day when Dan Goldin and I and Brian
O'Connor were in the back of a Russian limousine going out to the
Energia facilities to meet with Semenov, who was desperately trying
to negotiate directly with us, as I was mentioning before, to see
if he could get money into his coffers for cooperation on issues.
Brian was laying out his position that he was very concerned, that
he could not recommend moving forward, and then he started to speak
in a lot of policy ways about whether or not this was a good idea
to do, at which time I said I was very disappointed with him, and
we had some serious words about, "You do your job and we do ours,"
in terms of policies [unclear] and the administration, and unless
there was some overriding safety issue that you can show us, that
there was no question that the policy was going to go through, and
that it was imperative, if not vitally important, that we continue
with this kind of a program, particularly as a way to find a transition
for Russian industry to become more commercial, more civil in its
orientation, rather than building military products.
Dan listened the whole time; he did not say much. He let me carry
the conversation. He got into policy issues, which Dan always deferred
to me on. When we finally got to the gates of the facility, it was
getting into a pretty heated discussion, so to speak, and we moved
forward, overruled what he said. Again, if he had come and showed
us something that was definitive in terms of—I don't mean definitive
in the sense it would hold up in a court of law type definitive, but
just something that was more than just anecdotal evidence that they
had safety concerns, it would be one thing, but he showed nothing
like that. It was just, "I didn't like the facilities. They weren't
Well, anybody that's spent time in Russia knows you don't see the
same kind of procedures. Russians don't spend money on infrastructure.
They think that's a giant waste of money. So if a building's falling
apart, the last thing they're going to do is spend a ruble on that
versus a ruble on building hardware or a new piece of technology.
And, of course, I was also resting on the very strong assurances that
George Abbey had given me that he had worked this all out with the
astronaut corps. I know very well that he would never put them at
risk in any shape or form. George is such a loyal person to the astronauts,
that it would be inconceivable to me that he would truly have done
something that would have really jeopardized their safety.
So that's by way of saying that by the time we got out of the car,
we had pretty much determined that we were going to move ahead, short
of any other serious evidence that there was a problem.
The meeting was actually more or less a signing ceremony, a large
event, so to speak, but it was one that was obviously going to be
reaching into some very hard winds that would prevent us from really
moving forward. That's a rather obtuse way of saying that we were
having serious problems with the Russians. They wanted a lot of money
for doing these things. They wanted to charge us a lot of money to
hook up, and we didn't believe that since this was a government-to-government
activity, that money should be appropriately involved, and it was
the intention of the two Presidents to put something together that
would be funded by their respective governments rather than us trying
to fund something for Russian.
There was a luncheon about to take place in the cafeteria area, one
of the cafeterias in Energia. There must have been forty, fifty people
down there waiting for us. Dan and I went to see Mr. Semenov and Mr.
Koptev, and Bob Clark, I believe, from the embassy, was there in the
room as well. On their side was Semenov, Koptev, and the Russian cosmonaut
Victor Romanov [phonetic], I think his name was. That needs to be
corrected. I forgot his actual name. But he's been written about recently
as one of the people that went and visited the pad during the last
launch and stuff like that, because he was one of the original people.
At that point, Dan had got very upset with the Russians and proceeded
to tell them that we were not going to do business with Semenov directly,
but our opposite number was Yuri Koptev, and that he ought to start
learning how to work with U.S. industry, and that we were not going
to pay for this particular activity and we were not going to be blackmailed
into paying them, so to speak, and insisted that this be taken off
the table and we proceed to find ways of making this happen, not ways
to slow it down or charge us for any kind of cooperative activities
There were some issues associated with finishing the commercialization
of this docking system, and also whether or not the docking system
would actually work on the situation of a Shuttle to a Mir Space Station-type
activity, because it wasn't originally designed for it. There was
enough engineering work, though, that when we went down and looked
at it, it was pretty clear it would generally work. I think our engineers
were pretty much feeling good about it.
Sam Keller, on the other hand, did not find all this stuff particularly
good, but we felt we had to continue to move forward, and we went
downstairs after this rather lively debate between Mr. Semenov and
Dan Goldin on the roles and responsibilities of each other, and proceeded
to have a banquet for us at that juncture.
There were a lot of issues associated with it, some of which is written
in this book I was talking about, Brian Burrough's [Dragonfly: NASA
and the Crisis Aboard the Mir], I think it was. There were a lot of
fights between the staffs, White House staff, and Dan at that time
could not really depend upon NASA staff to give him any straight advice
or let alone write any paper that would be an MOU [Memorandum of Understanding]
which we wanted to sign at the time, and there was literally pulling
back and forth, fights up in the Radisson Hotel in Moscow at the Business
Center, between Sam Keller and my staff, I think was Liz Prestridge,
over the documents themselves and whose documents it was going to
So we constantly were in a situation where we had to arbitrate between
these people, and we finally, of course, went with the White House
staff one. At one particular area when we were doing some tours, Joe
Messara was in the back of a limousine writing the final hand-written
details of what the MOU was going to look like, which we ultimately
signed and it became the basis for, I think, the next visit to Russia,
which is that visit I believe that Marty Vega and Larry Gershwin joined
us on. We saw some further activities. Frankly, my recollection is
pretty vague about all the other issues associated with that. I don't
really remember any other headlines or any other major problem areas
that we had in trying to establish these relationships.
We became very close in our working relationships with Yuri Koptev
during that period. He really was quite a decent individual and later
grew his organization to be quite substantial, as it is today, a number
of thousands of people involved in the Russian Space Agency, when,
in fact, there were only about three at one time. He grew quite a
large organization very, very quickly.
I think the policy was quite successful at the end of the day in making
sure that we had the appropriate point of contact for these kinds
of discussions and cooperation. That said, I guess, in retrospect,
one of the things that should maybe have been adjusted in this process
was how we distributed the money, rather than send the money through
the Russian Space Agency. It would have been better to have sent the
money through the factories themselves, because what was happening,
or what we've observed, is that the Russian Space Agency and the government,
I think, more specifically, was taking the money and not readily flowing
it down to buy Space Station elements of this activity.
How did you learn that that's what was happening?
Well, I think over the last, I'd say, since '94 to today, we've
constantly seen this problem crop up. I think Congressman Sensenbrenner,
in particular, has highlighted this as an issue, that all these Russian
companies are complaining they're not getting any money, that money
just goes over there to the Russian Government's bank account, and
there is really no flow-through of that particular account to these
Russian companies to pay for the hardware that was going to be built
or was under contract.
We had some discussions, by the way, I might add, leading up to the
election point, because we pretty much finalized everything around
September, October. By that time the election didn't look very good
for Bush, and so we had to think that potentially we may not be able
to implement in the second administration many of these things. So
we put into place a process that would continue to keep this on line
and allow, if the case may be, any new administration that came in,
the chance to think about whether or not they wanted to do it or not,
but there would be enough momentum that it could go forward until
they had a chance to get a policy position on what they wanted to
do in Russia, and nothing would fall through the cracks.
At the same time, it could also be turned off if the decision was
not to do it, because anybody that knows going into a new administration,
particularly one in which their party had been out of power for over
twelve years, that they would have to really think through all their
policy issues. And knowing that that takes six to twelve months, we
want them to have something in place that will continue this, short
of a decision to the contrary by them.
This continued to proceed, and after the election, of course, during
the transition team we continued to work with the new transition team
on this issue, and it looked pretty apparent that they wanted to continue
it, and, of course, ultimately led to something that I actually disagreed
with, which was to bring them as heavily into the Space Station as
we did. I even told Dan after that, after we left office, that I didn't
think that was a very good idea, when I knew it was being debated
by the administration. It wasn't that they shouldn't be in it. My
problem with it was that they were not the—how do you put it—the
supplement to the Space Station; they became the backbone to the Space
Station. They became the key driver. Without them, you really could
not build the Space Station if they decided they wanted to leave.
Also I think it was important to [unclear] that this whole thing on
the Shuttle-Mir, which was to lead up to even bigger and better cooperation,
which I think George Abbey, in particular, thought was important,
he thought that it would be important to expand it beyond it. Of course,
we hadn't even gotten that far yet. We only had, I think, one or two
main initiatives, and it was almost quickly, within a year, expanded
in the next administration to something beyond that. So it was a much
more aggressive program over time, but certainly the whole basis of
what became the Russian cooperative program between the United States
and Russia in space was founded in the Bush administration.
Was the entire 40 million [dollars] that you had determined was to
go, was it going to be all used for this one effort, or did you have
specific amounts going for different segments of the project? How
was the money divided up?
Well, I don't remember all the details of it, but it wasn't all to
go for that. There was a piece of it that was going for the docking
mechanism, and other parts that would go for adjustments and other
types of technology development associated with making sure that they
were able to make out.
I think later what happened is, to some degree, they did succeed—the
Russians, that is—did succeed in getting some money paid for
each of the trips up to the Space Station, so it was a bit of a problem
in the sense that over time they succeeded in getting what they wanted.
I didn't know about it at the time, but it was clear, not at the time,
but subsequent to my leaving the White House January 20, 1993, that
they ultimately got some money. The Russians are famous for using
new people as a way to change the terms of the arrangement, and they
We also had a number of other things we were working with the Russians
on at the time, most notably missile technology control. That was
a big issue for us. In Khrunichev at the time, which is later the
Proton partner that I was referring to, was doing some business, overtly
so, with Indian, in selling rocket engine technology or stages of
rockets to India. We had a number of things we had to do in that area.
On the second trip we went to Russia. Frank Weisner [phonetic], who
at the time was Under Secretary of State succeeding Reginald Bartholomew,
joined us on one of these trips, and that became one of the key items,
was to bring the Russians into the missile technology control regime.
We had to attend a number of Foreign Ministry meetings, me representing
the White House, Dan representing NASA. I think I had to deal more
with it than Dan did, but it became a White House policy that they
had to join the MTCR [Missile Technology Control Regime] before we
could proceed much further in the area of further space cooperation.
Ukraine was the real sticking point on it, because we did not want
to extend to Ukraine the same rights and privileges that the Russians
wanted to get in MTCR themselves as a signature power. The idea was
that Ukraine ought to just forego any interest in developing missiles
like this and kind of renounce their position or production in the
future. I can tell you that the Ukrainians did not accept that very
easy when we went down there. They were very upset by that policy,
thought it was discriminatory. Of course, they had lots of production
capability that would prove that they knew how to build this and they
didn't need any help from anybody else, that they could do it on their
That became a sticking point, and the State Department at the time
had ordered me to convey the message since they were driving this
as a policy issue, primarily, to convey the message that we did not
see them nor want them to be part of the missile technology control
regime. So that became a bit of an impediment and a contentious issue
at the time.
The National Space Council, I'm sure, has had many focuses. What was
its main reason as a council that they wanted to move this forward
with Russia? You mentioned earlier about the military alternatives.
Of course, we've heard the rumors that this was just to get Bush reelected.
But what was the Council's stand? Why was it so important for them
to work with the White House to get this done?
Well, at the time, Brent Scrowcroft, who was national security advisor,
and one that, I think, if you were to interview today, would talk
about the belief that—and I think rightly so, a very legitimate
believe—that if we did not do something in this time of social
chaos, so to speak, in Russia, in the changing of the kind of government,
the move from Communism to quasi-democracy at the time, that there
would be potentially a hemorrhaging of technology and technology knowledge
to countries who may not have a more peaceful intention behind the
use of those technologies.
If you take it from the other side, as I mentioned earlier, the Nunn-Lugar
activities, this was a very deeply held policy debate going on, strong
concerns, certainly good indications in the intelligence circles that
there was some real worries of what was going to happen with these
key engineers and key technologies being leaked to rogue countries,
so to speak, because everybody was very poor. I mean, these were situations
in which when we walked on the streets of Russia, particularly Moscow,
there were people lining up on the street up till midnight, in the
middle of winter in some cases, trying to sell anything they had.
If they had a piece of sausage, they were trying to sell it. If they
had a bottle of vodka, they'd try to sell it. If they had a bar of
soap, they'd try to sell it. It was real tough and go as to the status
of the society, had no job, no identity. Communism was going away.
We had to really think through, as a government, ways to find some
peaceful applications of this knowledge that would enhance stability
rather than undermine stability in Russia itself.
So the Council's focus was, what is the best way to do that? And NASA
became an obvious example of that, an obvious vehicle for that. But
even in the military side, later on the CIA, in particular, in the
National Reconnaissance Office, more specifically, began even cooperating
with the Russian Government in many areas, intelligence cooperation
and in the area of space as well, be it early warning systems that
would be used together, space-based early warning systems, to help
bring crisis stability into play so that no one would be devoid of
any particular knowledge. They would share these kind of early warning
satellite information systems with everybody.
So there were a lot of things that were going on at the time, but
the Council's motivation was to find as many of these kinds of things,
cooperative things, that were possible. Commercial commerce was certainly
one. You also needed it on the space side.
I remember one executive from, at the time, Lockheed Corporation coming
in to see me—it must have been in August of 1992—saying
that he was about to go over to Russia, and he was visiting all the
various agencies, including Capitol Hill, because Bill Perry had pointed
them in the direction of Khrunichev, and they put this deal together
and gave the Russians some amount of money, that they could get into
an exclusive arrangement with Russia to, in this case, market launch
vehicles for commercial satellite launches. Everybody, in his opinion,
was giving him pretty good signs that they needed to continue to cooperate
with these companies, and the interesting thing was, of course, that
the issue was how much money would it take to secure such an exclusive
He told me how much he was going to offer. I had just come back from
Russia, of course, and I said, "I think if you offered them half
that much, they would accept it, they're so desperate," because
they had 25,000 people that they needed to find work for. Everything
just completely dried up in the government. I think my exact words
were, "I think they'd accept half of that in a New York second,"
and he came back and he said, "You're only wrong in one area.
It took three seconds, not one." They accepted the deal, and
that's what formed later the partnership between Lockheed Corporation
and Khrunichev later leading to, of course, this continuing relationship
that we have.
But the activities themselves all were synergistic. Ultimately, for
example, Lockheed Corporation, it led to a contract that Khrunichev
wanted to have between us and them on building the FGB module, which
later became a Boeing prime contract relationship. They were the prime,
of course. Boeing was given that responsibility. We were, as a subcontractor,
reporting to Boeing. Well, it was clear Boeing didn't want Lockheed
involved, and they were trying to find every way possible to get Lockheed
out of the equation and start the relationship directly with Khrunichev.
Russians are extremely loyal once they believe that you're their friend,
and we certainly demonstrated that we were their friend at Lockheed
As a result of that, while we signed the contract amongst ourselves,
or at least a tentative contract, terms of reference, so to speak,
we did not ultimately consummate the contract because Boeing didn't
want to pay us anything. They thought they could do it directly themselves.
So this led to ultimately us at Lockheed getting out of it, and that's
what led directly to a contract relationship between Boeing and Khrunichev,
much, I might add, to the dismay of George Abbey and others who thought
we ought to be involved. So the process in Russia had led to different
kinds of cooperative activities.
In the early days when you were speaking with Mr. Abbey and you were
putting this plan together, did he have specific expectations that
he shared with you, that he would hope that this project would result
You bet. He wanted to go to Mars. He was very insistent that our key
activity was human flight. He was not a big fan of hardware technology
cooperation of unmanned vehicle joint programs at all between the
two countries. Everything George worked on in the Space Council, and
later worked on directly in NASA, working for Dan Goldin after working
for me, was to find some way to get humans back into space. Even Space
Station, for him, was a mere stepping stone, so to speak, and really
what we had to do was go back to the Moon and then on to Mars. That
used to become our favorite saying: "Back to the Moon and on
We were working on a number of things like that. Certainly our budgets
reflected in the Bush administration a more aggressive stance on supporting
NASA. I think the budget projections going out when I left were about
14 billion dollars a year, and that was back in 1992. Of course, later
the Clinton administration took a number of years to finally conclude
this, but decided to put NASA on a steady-state budget of 15.1 billion
dollars, which, as you can imagine, over five years, leading up to
even today, in real terms that's a significant decrease from where
we were. So many of the types of things that we did out of the President's
initiative, Space Exploration Initiative, SEI, which was announced,
I believe, on July 20, 1989—yes, I guess it was 1989. It was
on the anniversary date, the twentieth-year anniversary. The intention
was to make that the key vehicle.
George Abbey felt it was very, very important that the Russians become
deeply involved in this, not only because they would share risk with
us, and certainly they had some capability they could contribute,
but they had a wealth of information on humans in space and what they
went through, the physiology and all those activities that they had
done many, many years of experiment with by all the Space Station
manning activities that they had.
So it was a very big imperative for George, and even to this day George
is very protective of the Russian relationship, believing that it's
absolutely vital. I can't at all find fault with that. I think it
is obvious they are the other major space power in the world, albeit
it is rapidly declining in terms of its infrastructure, but in terms
of its knowledge and its experience, it certainly had to be into the
equation, and you can't do anything, really, at the end of the day
without them, as long as you're not having a bipolar world as we experienced
during the Cold War, of a Soviet Union and a United States. But that
not being on the horizon, at least hopefully not on the horizon, there's
no way to do it without them. He was very insistent. If anybody knows
George, he's a person who works on you constantly as a way to get
his wish. It's like water on a rock; he eventually wears you down.
What about your expectations? Do you feel what you started back in
June of that year, you were able to accomplish or at least see accomplished
now that Phase 1 is gone?
Well, I obviously believe that we wouldn't be where we are today had
we not started that process. Would we be anywhere near it or on the
same path? It's unclear. Any new administration, as I said, would
have taken quite a long time to have gotten their act together. Again,
it's not a fault. It's just the reality of the process that always
takes place. Everybody's reexamining everything.
Knowing the current Vice President, [Albert] Gore, as I did, because
he was on the Armed Services Committee when I was there, and I got
to know him very well and I certainly had a lot of respect for him.
As an intellect, he was a tremendous individual. I knew that he would
have a strong proclivity for wanting to continue with these sorts
of things, but it would really be one of those items that could get
easily lost. He had a very strong commitment to Russia itself, as
well. The two things came together for him. He believed in the importance
of space, but he also believed in the importance of ensuring stability
in Russia. He knew he would continue it on.
I think it would have been terrible had we not done what we've done
under the Bush administration. I do not think we would be where we
are today. Now, some people could argue maybe that would have been
better not to have, but it has turned out that space is one of the
things I believe you can point to that has been the key success of
building our relationship with the Russians. The Gore-[unclear] process
that evolved during the Clinton administration, I think was instrumental
in laying the foundations for dialogue between the two countries.
The hallmark issue for all that had been space. The Shuttle-Mir activities
were two key elements. Those systems were two key elements of what
allowed them to have a dialogue of substance, rather than a dialogue
of theory. In this case, I think the substance and theory paid off
dramatically. Certainly Russian space industry would be in worse shape
than it currently is.
But at the same time, I mean, the critics of this process, like Congressman
Sensenbrenner, certainly could find a lot of cannon fodder for arguing
that the Russians have taken us for a ride to some extent. As I reflected
upon earlier, there may be some legitimacy to the issue of whether
or not we should have put money through the government versus money
directly into the government facilities or to the private facilities,
however the case may be, because I think if we made sure the money
got to them directly, that there would have been more product produced
and certainly on time. Russians are very, very good about producing
all this kind of stuff in a very efficient and timely manner. So I
think there is some concern on my part that had we not done it, we'd
be much worse off today than not.
Did we achieve George Abbey's objective and my objective and Dan Goldin's
objective of getting ourselves better placed to move off into space
in a much more aggressive way and on a better cycle than we are today?
Maybe not. But certainly it's contributed to a working relationship
in some of the development, like Space Station, that will be the stepping
stone to moving on to human exploration beyond just a circular orbit
around the Earth. I think it is a key objective and we should continue
to pursue it.
You spent six months directly on this project as part of that. Was
there a time that just felt it wasn't going to happen?
Oh, yeah. I felt that during the first two weeks of my tenure there,
arguing with Reginald Bartholomew over this issue, that it wasn't
going to happen. He was pretty adamant that he was not going to let
this thing happen. He did not want to see this completed, because,
again, I think they saw this as the purview of the State Department.
"They come up with ideas, not us." Or in the case of the
way we did it on paper, anyway, came from NASA, and NASA should have
worked with State Department on the issue.
Reginald was leaving, though. I think he left around the July time
frame or shortly after the summit, and his successor, Frank Weisner,
was a far more reasonable individual in terms of getting some of this
thing nailed down. That's not to really be critical of Reginald Bartholomew.
He was an extremely effective individual. He knew the process well.
He's obviously a well-respected Foreign Service officer today, serving
in the government. I think that he was just a formidable foe. But
as circumstance would have it, maybe had I not met Kathy Sawyer that
night and managed to get in the paper and get to the President's front
page of his press clippings, maybe something would have been different.
I don't know. It's hard to say.
Did you always feel that you had President Bush and Vice President
Quayle's support in this effort?
I can't speak to President Bush. I never really got much of a chance
to get—and certainly not in my first two weeks. It's one of
those things that while I was officer of the White House, working
on paper for the President, I knew I was working for Vice President
Quayle. He was the chairman of the National Space Council and the
President's representative on it. So I considered myself his employee.
I can tell you that Vice President Quayle was certainly a big supporter
and did everything he can to help facilitate this activity. He was
a person who believed very heavily in his responsibilities to the
National Space Council and the need to be aggressive and certainly
finding ways to change the space program to fit the new age we were
coming into, the new era, the post-Cold War era situation. That meant
we had to rethink everything we did and how we ran things. Certainly
without the Cold War as the way to constantly get the threat of someone
beating us, therefore translated into money, we had to think of new
ways to justify our existence. Certainly at NASA we had to do that,
because without the Cold War, sort of why do we need to pursue it
at such an aggressive pace? There's always going to be a justification
to pursue a space program, and I think always legitimate, in my opinion,
but, nonetheless, not at the robust funding levels that we were talking
Of course, coming out of that, too, was the concern that Space Station
was starting to go over budget, seriously over budget, and we had
to think of new ways to do it. We were actually on the verge of doing
that, and I think it would have been interesting to see how we would
have evolved probably differently on that than how the Clinton administration
There are three studies plus a final report to the President that
I think is always useful to read in the context of all this discussion
we just had. The National Space Council, despite, I might add, the
headlines during the White House reductions back in '93, '94 time
period, which is sort of the Space Council cut about 300 of its staff,
we never had even close to that. We had approximately twelve people,
but we had all these unpaid advisors. It amused me when I read in
the paper, when they announced the cutback on the White House, they
rolled up all those 300 advisors, unpaid, as employees of the White
House, and made it sound like the National Space Council was drastically
cut and there were some bloated bureaucracy. It was far from that.
It was literally just twelve people, twelve billets.
We used these consultants, though, on working groups, unpaid consultants,
and we did those three studies I was referring to, one on the future
of the launch business, one on technology, space technology and cooperation
for the future. Gosh, I forgot what the last one was. I think it was
on space commerce and what we need to do. I have the three studies.
I should probably give them to you. And then the final report to the
President was a very detailed outline of all these.
You'll find a lot more detail in there about where we were going to
go, and the objective, of course, at the time, harkening back again
to my view that we did all these things believing that we were going
to be there for a second term automatically, we wanted to have the
blueprints in place from where we were going to take the administration.
Did you decide to leave this challenging position after six months
because of a different offer?
Oh, no. I was a political appointee. Again, I was an officer of the
White House. I was an appointee of the President. Despite the fact
I knew the Vice President well, they'd been out of office twelve years.
They were not going to have holdovers. Now you start to see Republicans
coming in, as it is typically in any administration, just like Democrats
came in under the [President Ronald] Reagan administration at the
end of the day. They wanted to write their own, and they should have.
That's the way our system runs. I never even suggested or offered
or anything like that. I knew it was my place to leave, and I did.
Were you able to make an impact on this project in other ways?
Yes, after you left your official position. Were you involved in any
Well, certainly kept close to George Abbey and Dan Goldin. We act
as sounding boards. All of us are friends. It's not political in any
way. It's just common sense, it's logical, "What do you think
are the ramifications?" Again, as I told you, Dan and I were
talking about the potential restructuring of Space Station and how
much he was going to use the Russians as a critical path. I had a
strong disagreement with him on it. I thought it was the wrong thing
to do, that you can't put them in the path of being the critical element.
They had to be something different than that. Again, as an adjunct
to it, not as the main driver. So constantly I worked those kinds
National Space Council-type things, particularly those associated
with civil space activities, are not really partisan. There are Democrats
and Republicans who are always for them, and Democrats and Republicans
who are against them, and luckily the "for" is always outweighing
the minority bipartisan coalition that's opposed to it. So the nice
thing for us was that you never really saw the kind of politics that
we get into often with these things. It wasn't So-and-so was doing
this to undercut another party from the opposite side, because I think
most people believed that this was one of the few areas that was a
sort of bipartisan approach, even today. In fact, we had a lot of
speculation that Gore was going to make Quayle's tenure as chairman
of the National Space Council some political item, and it basically
never really came up. I think there was only one instance where it
did at all.
I must tell you, though, that there was a momentum that gathered on
the part of the NASA bureaucracy that started to believe that Dan
and I were short-timers, and it got worse and worse. I remember the
very first day I joined the White House, Dan and I had to go see the
President, who was visiting Goddard and giving a speech to the employees
there. We went there, and John [M.] Klineberg and Len [Lennard A.]
Fisk, Len Fisk being the chief scientist, John Klineberg being the
Center director, was purposely treating us very poorly, and put Dan
and me in a room, locked up, while he and Len Fisk were taking the
President around to show him the hardware. And, boy, Dan was so furious
with him. It was that type of mischief that we found a lot of, constantly.
As the election polling showed more and more that Clinton was the
likely winner, around the August, September, October time frame, the
bureaucracy became even more recalcitrant. As a result of that, no
one wanted to move anything. Luckily, we had done all this work in
July and August on Russian activities that had developed its own momentum,
because had we not done that, I don't think it would have lasted,
the weak support that we saw from the bureaucracy, believing that
Dan Goldin was going to be a short-term administrator. And certainly
to all those people the worst nightmare for them came true, because
he's now going to end up being probably the longest serving administrator
in the history of NASA.
I don't think NASA would have survived in terms of budgetary support
and political support had it not been for Dan Goldin. I think he was
absolutely instrumental. People can argue a lot about his management
style and all this, but I'll tell you, you won't meet anybody more
creative and some one more energetic to change something around that
needed to be changed than him. Had they not done it, had they sort
of kept on the typical momentum of what NASA was doing during that
time frame in '93, '94, not even touched Space Station, didn't want
to pursue any cooperation with the Russians because of whatever elements
of NASA didn't want to do it, that resisted, I think they just would
have found themselves totally irrelevant, marginalized, so to speak,
because you had to redefine yourself.
Dan was extremely proactive and creative in redefining what the organization
was all about at the end of the day. If it weren't for him, I don't
think it would have the strong support it does, nor would they be
doing exploration to Mars and having the success of what they had
with the faster, cheaper, better approaches that we started in the
It might have been a brief time period, but it was definitely one
that has long-lasting impacts.
Well, I'd like to think so. You never know. Certainly we did a lot.
It was seven months for me. Did a lot in seven months. Those three
reports and one final report to the President, then this initiative,
I think did set a course of positive momentum for NASA and certainly
helped pave the way for cooperation in a much more expansive way with
Russia and other countries. So it was an interesting time.
Many of the folks that we've talked to that began at the beginning
of this project and are still working with it talk about the changes
in Russia due to this program. Have you had a chance to be back in
Russia to see the impact?
I've been to Russia about forty times. [Laughter] I probably know
the Russians better than anybody. In fact, most of the people from
government still call me today. The White House calls me and the Pentagon
calls me for advice on how to work an issue or not work an issue.
So I've seen a lot of the change.
When I was in charge of the Proton activity later on, the world back
then was a lot different. It took us quite a while to understand Russia.
We made a few mistakes that luckily weren't instrumental mistakes,
particularly on the relationship with Khrunichev. At the time when
we signed the deal, we signed the deal with a production facility,
which was called Khrunichev. There was another organization, the Design
Bureau, and they held all the plans and drawings. They were critical.
You couldn't really launch a launch vehicle without the support of
the Design Bureau in one form. That organization was run by Boris
Pelukin [phonetic], who kept reminding us that we really hadn't signed
an exclusive arrangement, since we'd only signed it with [Khrunichev],
we'd never signed it with him, and therefore he was free to go market
Russian launch vehicles to anybody.
Strangely enough, Mr. Pelukin died in June of 1993, and Yeltsin brought
the two organizations together and we dodged a bullet, because had
Pelukin lived and continued this fight, I think we would have never
have been as successful as we have been with the venture for International
Launch Services. So there's a lot of serendipitous events that take
place that you never really plan on.
Indeed, just like the time we brought Koptev to the table, that really
helped reinforce in Yeltsin's mind that we wanted him to be that point
of contact, because we had heard he was teetering. He could go into
a fall or he could go on to a rise. It was still unclear. But I think
that Yeltsin saw that we asked—in this case, Dan specifically
asked if we could bring him to the table because we liked doing business
with him, it garnered a lot of political support. Today it would probably
be a kiss of death in Russia, but it garnered a lot of political support.
But things have matured, and I think, unfortunately, some parts of
the maturity chain have taken a worst step with the attitude of the
parliamentarians and their more nationalistic line towards the United
States, and certainly some of our policies have not helped that at
all. Certainly some inconsistencies of that policy have not helped
us at all.
I think we're going through a very bad stage in that relationship
today, and the economics of Russia and how it stands is one thing
that is very disturbing, and certainly one I can't quite figure out,
in the sense that Russians are funny in that they think very short
term. They don't think very long term. I know that sounds odd because
so much of what's been considered sort of an Occidental mentality
on the part of Russians, but from the Russian individual standpoint,
when they look at a mortality rate of 57 and a half years, they don't
think that they're going to live beyond, so they always try to cut
the short term, make the money and run. That's what's caused so many
of these bad relationships. I think to some degree it's had an effect
on Space Station as well.
To close, you were able to accomplish so much in such a short amount
of time. Is there a significant event that you feel, if you hadn't
been there, that maybe it hadn't happened, that you really feel like
this was the one thing you were able to do to make this project a
success for everyone?
Certainly had the summit not happened and certainly had George Abbey
and I not decided to really take a proactive line, and I think the
constellation of stars, so to speak, was very good. Dan Goldin was
there. It was a very trusting relationship between the three of us—George,
myself, and Dan. And, of course, people that worked on the Council
It was interesting. It's a funny point you make, because one of the
things that Dan and I did is we held a reception for Yuri Koptev when
he came to town for the summit, and in our small world of the space
business we held the reception in both Dan's name and my name, which
after two to three years of fighting that was going on between Dick
Truly and Mark Albrecht, people were just astounded that the same
names of the National Space Council and NASA could appear on one invitation,
really shocked everybody. In fact, everybody that came to the reception
to see Yuri Koptev and to meet him—I think it was in the Indian
treaty—were just commenting, all the industry people, how happy
they were to see that we were finally cooperating, and looked like
there was going to be a positive working relationship rather than
the internecine relationship that had developed under the prior tenure
of Dick Truly.
I came from a military space background. I didn't really see the dynamics
of the Truly events too much, but, again, I knew Dan from his military
space days. For us it was a no-brainer, but obviously from standard
politics, what was going on, it wasn't the same thing. So I would
say that part is one of the key reasons and a willingness not to take
no for an answer. It's easy to go on to those jobs and just simply
follow whatever is the easiest path, the path of least resistance.
Personally, I'm just not like that. You won't find me capable of taking
no for an answer. As long as I think it's kind of a dumb answer. I
mean, if no is a smart answer, I live with that. But this was just
simply a "Not Invented Here" answer, and that's not a good
answer at the end of the day. And we had to adjust to the rapid changes
that were going on in the world, and if we sort of took the slow-poke
approach, we would have never have been as successful, I think, in
where we've gotten. That's a long-winded answer to your question.
A very complete one, and we thank you. Is there anything else that
you would like to add about your experiences of that time period that
we could share with others, that you feel is important?
No, I don't think there is. I guess I maybe should have gone over
a bunch of documents that would have jarred my memory. Maybe if I
do and see something, I'll give you a call and do a part two. I think
I pretty much covered all the headlines, all the most salient points
Considering that you had one long day when you started your job that
didn't finish for about seven months later, it sounds like it's kind
of hard to know when one event stopped and another one began.
It was also interesting to have been able to have done that part from
the government side, and then as I got into Lockheed Corporation,
to see how they were continuing on some of these. I had many other
responsibilities besides this Proton thing, but it kept me still involved
in the whole Russian activity, to the point where in Russia one of
the things they get very upset about is people change. They like to
see the same person over and over. Any changes or perturbations to
the relationship, through one person leaving, to them is grounds for
almost terminating it. That's why I think from the standpoint of what
makes Yuri Koptev comfortable, what makes it still successful today,
is the bond that Dan Goldin has with Yuri Koptev, and likewise that
George Abbey has with Yuri Koptev. Had we made changes there, I don't
think we would have been successful.
For me, it's the relationship I built up with Anatoly Keselev [phonetic]
at Khrunichev and to some degree even Yuri Semenov. He's on our board
of directors since Energia is still a partner in this business relationship
we have. It wasn't, I guess, more than a year ago, maybe a year and
a half ago, he stood up to toast, and he hardly knew anybody in the
room, but he knew me from our shouting match—not mine, but Dan
Goldin's shouting match with them in his office. He stood up and said,
"Glad to see a familiar face, a person who was so instrumental
in putting all this relationship together with Russia." And it's
that kind of thing that they just remember. They don't have time for
people who are tourists.
And come through and are only there for a part-time visit.
This long-lasting effort is going to affect all of us for many, many
years ahead. We certainly wish you luck in all your ventures. We plan
on keeping in touch and maybe you can share more with us in the future.
Thank you very much.