US expert: Russia will play the key part at the ISS

John Pike, a US-based space expert, thinks Russia will play the key role at the International Space Station (ISS) in the future.

By the end of this decade, Russia will play a much bigger role at the ISS because the US president has decided to withdraw from the project and when the USA stops using its shuttles, Russia will be the only country that will deliver crews and cargoes to the station, director of John Pike told RIA.

President George Bush had stated that the USA would finish its involvement in the ISS by 2010 and would launch preparations for manned flights to the Moon in 2015.

Pike supports Russia's idea of increasing the duration of the crews' stay at the station. He thinks this would be important for scientific research. I think this is a major aspect of work at the ISS because it offers the possibilities for medical studies of the effects of long missions, he said. If we plan to send people to Mars, we should collect as much medical information as possible to ensure the effectiveness of crews in Mars missions.

At the same time, there are no reasons to think that NASA is seriously pondering the possibility, thinks the US expert. He is critical about the US Moon programme. I think it is a pretext for the Bush administration to stop involvement in the ISS without drawing too much criticism, said John Pike. The US administration wants to focus the attention of the people on the Moon programme, so that they would not notice that the USA would stop sending shuttles and pull out of the ISS project. This is very sad.

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