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Bolden: New Roscosmos Head Committed to ISS Through 2024

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 10-Apr-2015
Updated: 10-Apr-2015 06:36 AM

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden told the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) yesterday (April 9) that the new head of Russia's space agency, Igor Komarov, is committed to the International Space Station (ISS) through 2024.  NAC continues to meet today, where the key topics of discussion are NASA's "Evolvable Mars Campaign" and the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) and especially whether ARM should be sent to the Mars moon Phobos instead of an asteroid.

Bolden's comments about Komarov followed a meeting between the two while Bolden was in Russia for the launch of NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and two crew mates, Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka, to ISS two weeks ago.  Kelly and Kornienko will remain aboard the ISS for one year, the first year-long crew for the ISS. 

A report in the Russian press incorrectly stated that Komarov had said he and Bolden agreed to work together to build another space station after ISS.  Bolden did not address that during the NAC meeting, but instead talked about his favorable impression of Komarov, calling him a "forward-looking, positive" individual.  Komarov became head of Roscosmos after another reorganization of the Russian space program earlier this year.

Bolden noted that Komarov has a much larger portfolio than previous Roscosmos directors.  Following the restructuring, not only is Komarov in charge of the Roscosmos space agency, but a new entity that comprises much of Russia's space industry (the United Rocket and Space Corporation) as well as medical and research institutes associated with the space program.

Komarov is committed to utilization of ISS through 2024, Bolden said, and to working with all the space station partners and expanding the number of participants looking at a long term exploration roadmap.   Bolden cautioned, however, that "that was talk, we'll see how it goes."

Komarov is the fourth head of Roscosmos since Bolden became NASA Administrator in 2009.

NAC spent much of yesterday debating the future of NASA's space program, especially the Evolvable Mars Campaign and ARM.   No decisions were made about making findings or recommendations about those activities, although there was robust debate as there has been in several of the past NAC meetings.  NAC chairman Steve Squyres gave "homework assignments" overnight to several of the members to draft language that will be debated today.   The meeting is from 9:00 am - 12:00 pm today at NASA Headquarters and is available by WebEx and telecon.  

One line of discussion late yesterday was whether NAC should recommend that NASA consider sending the ARM robotic spacecraft to Phobos rather than to an asteroid (some argue that Phobos is an asteroid captured by the gravity of Mars, but Sqyures indicated there is debate about that in the scientific community).   Check back here later to learn what they decide to do.


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