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ISS program is blueprint for global cooperation — NASA

April 11, 2016, 18:41 UTC+3 WASHINGTON

Stephanie Schierholz, spokesperson for the NASA Administrator, says the ISS program has become an important stage in the preparation of the first manned flight to Mars

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WASHINGTON, April 11. /TASS/. The International Space Station (ISS) program that is carried out 55 years after the world’s first space flight of Yuri Gagarin, has confirmed the possibility of successful cooperation between the United States and Russia, and has become an important stage in the preparation of the first manned flight to Mars, Stephanie Schierholz, spokesperson for the NASA Administrator, said in an interview with TASS on the eve of Cosmonautics Day that is marked in Russia on April 12.

According to her, "The International Space Station is the blueprint for global cooperation one that enables a US-led multinational partnership and advances shared goals in space exploration. We are undeniably stronger through our partnerships," the NASA spokeswoman said. "Working together, we can advance knowledge of our planet, our solar system, our sun, and our universe - for all of humanity," Schierholz said.

She said that American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts continue their ISS orbiting mission, and recently Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko who set a record of working on board the ISS have returned to Earth. They have stayed there for almost a year. "We recently completed the one-year mission, which is an important step in preparing humanity for long-duration spaceflights. In addition, more than at any time in history, we are partnering with commercial companies to achieve our space exploration goals, to benefit humanity, and to enable the Journey to Mars," the NASA spokesperson said.

Is there life on Mars?

Asked about the main objectives of the future trip to Mars, Schierholz said, "In our lifetimes, NASA and its partners can answer some of humanity’s fundamental questions about life beyond Earth. Mars can teach us about our own planet’s formation and possible future and it may also be a place where we find life besides Earth."

In addition, "The endeavor will improve lives on Earth by advancing scientific knowledge and discovery, new technologies, economic opportunities (as all giant leaps in transportation and exploration have), and the peaceful, international exploration of space. Technology drives exploration, and it’s helping us solve some of our key challenges in getting to Mars."

"Sending human beings to Mars will require all hands on deck - government, industry, academic and international partners and citizen scientists; we need everybody," Schierholz said.

International project

NASA plans to perform the first manned flight to mars somewhere in the middle of the 2030s using its new spacecraft Orion and the SLS heavy-lift carrier rocket developed, respectively, by the Lockheed Martin and Boeing corporations. However, automated spacecraft will be used first to explore Mars and its atmosphere and choose the site for spacecraft landing. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said recently that he hoped to develop cooperation to this end with foreign partners, including Russia.

The flight to Mars is an international project, he told TASS at a meeting with experts and journalists at the Satellite-2016 satellite communications conference at National Harbor, Maryland, south of Washington, DC. Saying that many countries have the technical resources to contribute to this project, the NASA administrator expressed willingness to cooperate with them.

Competition of ideas

According to Bolden, the current political differences between Washington and Moscow should not interfere with their cooperation to prepare a journey to Mars.

Now, instead of rivalry, there is a competition of ideas between the two sides, the NASA administrator said, adding that American experts were ready to discuss new proposals with the leading space powers and other countries that can also participate in joint space projects. He said the United States intended to continue the dialogue on this issue with all the participants in the ISS program - the space agencies of Russia, Canada, Japan and Europe.

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