|Российская наука и мир|
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)
Страна, которая тратит на науку менее 0,5% государственного бюджета, не имеет перспектив в конкуренции на мировом рынке следующего столетия. Место науки и высшего образования в жизни общества, а также отношение к ним со стороны политической элиты и средств массовой информации решающим образом определяет место России в мире и ее экономические перспективы на 21 век. Переходный период нанес значительный ущерб российской науке. Размеры и глубина кризиса в этом секторе более серьезны, чем спад в экономике страны в целом.
A country that spends less than 0.5 percent of GDP on science has no prospects for competing on the world market in the next century. Science and higher education's place in the country's social life as well as the political elite's and news media's relation to them will decisively determine Russia's place in the world order and its economic prospects for the 21st century.
The transition period has brought substantial damage to Russia's scientific complexes. The scale and depth of the crisis in this sector is more serious than the country's economic decline on the whole. The level of research and development has decreased sharply; the number of occupations in science is half of 1991 levels and investment in scientific equipment and technology has been reduced drastically as well. Many large scientific centers use old equipment that renders high-qualifications useless and undermines key trends in research.
The money Russia is now spending on increasing its scientific potential is not only insufficient but dangerous for the future of the country. Science, like other spheres of culture, is an activity for which decline can become irreversible. Restoring it becomes all the more difficult, requiring huge resources and much time. A country that spends less than 0.5 percent of gross domestic product on science has few prospects for competing successfully in the next century with economically and technologically developed countries. Research and development in these countries is no less than 2.5 percent.
Essentially, the role of science in the country depends on traditions and the level of government support. It also depends on the level of awareness of the political elite and population with regard to the possibilities for applying scientific and technological activities to solve social and economic problems and improve working and living conditions.
One of the most important achievements of the Soviet period was the creation in the country of rather powerful scientific complexes. In several spheres of research, particularly in the fundamental sciences, Soviet scientists took leading positions in the world.
Soviet science had, however, very serious flaws. These include the extreme militarization of science; the large number of secret "mailboxes" - scientific institutions about which only the address was known to the public; the weak ties between scientific research and the real economy, especially the consumer part of it; and the high level of ideology, which deformed the social sciences and the humanities and hindered their development. The unnecessary level of bureaucracy meant that smooth administrative methods were not used, especially in applied research and development. The ideas of accelerating the development of science and technological progress that were put forward during the initial perestroika period were, in principle, correct. But they remained just declarations and did not bring any concrete results, except in the social sciences and humanities, which benefited from the announced principles of openness and pluralism. The Chernobyl catastrophe dealt a heavy blow to the prestige of science as did information about other accidents and serious ecological problems, for which people blamed science and scientists.
The post-Soviet period, which has not solved the former problems with Russian science, has given rise to new ones. State financing of science began to decrease quickly: from 1.85 percent of GDP in 1991 to 0.5 percent in 1996. The prestige of scientific activities has also declined, which has led to a decrease in people into scientific fields. In 1988, the largest age group of scientific workers was between 30 and 39 years. In 1994, it was between 40 and 49. The level of wages in the sciences takes only ninth place among the 15 major branches of employment. The president's decrees and government programs aimed at solving the problems of science have practically not been carried out.
In these conditions, the brain drain of highly qualified and young prospective scientists from Russia is entirely understandable. The threat of a collapse of the Russian scientific community should not be underestimated. Science is undergoing extremely difficult times. It is not only a question of reform but of survival.
The main problem today is that, unfortunately, science and new domestic technologies are hardly in demand either by large industries, state institutions or small and medium business. Now rather detailed answers must be found to a number of key questions: What are Russia's objective scientific needs concerning its national interests and prospects for development; which research projects should be a priority; and how should the management of scientific complexes be reorganized?
If such policies are not worked out, then the risk increases that Russia will turn into a dependent and divided country living mainly on the sale of raw materials and imported goods, equipment and technology. The current low level of demand in the country for scientific knowledge and new technologies should not be taken as proof that the period during which Russia was one of the world's leaders in science is over for good.
On the contrary, all the main tasks that society and the government face - promoting a competitive economy and improving the people's well-being - can only be dealt with effectively if science is once again made a priority.
© Copyright 1998 The Moscow Times. All rights reserved.
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Планируемое сокращение финансирования науки вызвало сильный протест со стороны российских ученых. Акция протеста организована профсоюзами научных работников, которые образовали российский координационный комитет научных объединений.
The Russian cabinet is proposing to cut science funding this year by 26.5 per cent compared with the figures approved by the State Duma - the lower house of the Russian parliament - in January.
The planned reduction - from Rubl 11.2 billion ($1.8 billion) to Rubl 8.2 billion - which forms part of a broad programme of public economies, has already led to strong protests from Russian scientists. They picketed the finance ministry in Moscow last week, and plan to block roads into the nation's capital next week.
The protest is being organized by trade unions representing researchers, who have jointly formed the Russian co-ordinating committee of the scientific collectives (RCC).
RCC representatives have met with first deputy minister Valery Kostyuk, who is acting minister of science and technologies during the absence, due to illness, of the recently appointed minister Vladimir Bulgak. Kostyuk promised that the cabinet would start negotiations with RCC after 10 June.
This is the date on which Bulgak is scheduled to lead a governmental commission made up of representatives of his ministry, as well as the ministries of finances, economics and state property. But in a statement, RCC says its meeting with Kostyuk failed to reach agreement on a single issue of importance.
"This further reduction of state financing suggests that there will be a mass liquidation of scientific collectives, with a lot of people engaged in science losing their jobs, and eliminating any prospect of scientists' receiving the higher wages promised to them earlier," says RCC chairman Valery Sobolev.
His deputy, Aleksey Zharov, is even more outspoken: "This sequestrating of the budget means the final and irrevocable destruction of Russian science."
But the cabinet's decision, which led to the the RCC protest, is only the tip of the iceberg. Earlier last month, the government issued a decree indicating that the budget for science will experience even heavier cuts over the next few years.
In 2001, for example, under the government's austerity plans, spending on science will be 0.23 per cent of gross national product, compared with 0.33 in 1997, falling from 2.1 to 1.8 per cent of public expenditure.
The Ministry of Finances has already written to all research institutes and laboratories emphasizing that strict economies are to be imposed. From next year, state spending on scientific research will be cut by Rubl 1.5 billion each year until 2001.
Among those likely to suffer are the Russian Foundation for Fundamental Research and the Russian humanitarian scientific foundations, both of which will see their current budgets cut by half.
Furthermore, research institutes will be required to give priority to paying their electricity bills and other communal costs, leaving staff salaries to be paid out of what money - if any - remains.
The budget reduction affects all of the research programme except space research for which, it was reported, the cabinet has managed to find an extra Rubl 1.5 billion.
The government's moves have come in the wake of various proposals it has received that there should be a substantial pruning of research institutes and laboratories, to ensure that only the most competitive survive.
So far, however, efforts to move in this direction have been strongly resisted by the Russian Academy of Sciences. "It is easy to destroy something, but very difficult to build," says Andrey Gonchar, RAS vice-president. "What will be the long-term value of closing institutes and laboratories, even if they are currently ineffective?"
© 2008 Nature Publishing Group.
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Российские ученые - гордость и элита в советское время - присоединились к шахтерам в центре Москвы, чтобы протестовать против невыплаты зарплаты и предупредить о необратимом упадке науки без немедленой государственной поддержки. "Без науки Россия превратится в колонию!", "Голодные ученые - позор России!" - это можно было прочитать на лозунгах демонстрантов.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian scientists, a proud and privileged elite in Soviet times, joined coal miners on Thursday in central Moscow to protest over unpaid wages and warned of an irreversible decline in science without prompt state help.
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Hundreds of scientists besieged the White House, the riverside government headquarters, to press their claims for more money and found common cause with miners from Russia's far north who have been picketing the building for over a week.
"Hungry scientists - Russia's shame!" and "Without science Russia will become a colony!" read the protesters' banners. "We scientists feel that Russia no longer wants us and this protest is to show that we still exist, that we are still working and that we want to help Russia," one middle-aged female scientist told Reuters Television.
Vladimir Bulgak, minister for science and technology in the market-oriented government, offered sympathy and some cash when he met the protest leaders inside the White House. "We shall do everything possible to ensure that financing of the scientific sphere is no worse than last year," Itar-Tass news agency quoted Bulgak as saying. Tass said the Finance Ministry, currently battling a crisis of confidence among investors that has sparked a big rise in interest rates and pledges of extra Western loans, would allocate 400 million rubles to the science sector by July. But many scientists said they no longer believed President Boris Yeltsin and his government could deliver on its promises. "We supported Yeltsin, even at the last election we voted for him. But now we understand he has just been using us," said one scientist. "Now we have to grow vegetables on our allotments because we don't have the money to buy food. It is humiliating," she said.
In communist times science was seen as a valuable tool in the ideological battle with the capitalist West and won generous state subsidies, though the lion's share was channeled into military projects. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the scientific establishment, along with the armed forces, heavy industry and other pillars of the old order, have seen a sharp erosion in funding and morale.
The director of Moscow's Institute of Earth Sciences, Vladimir Strakhov, told NTV commercial television on Thursday that Russian science might completely collapse within two to three years due to chronic underfunding. "Today science is at a critical point... Our people receive paltry wages and are leaving the profession in droves," he said. Many scientists, fed up with trying to survive on an average monthly salary of less than $100, have joined a "brain drain" of talent seeking lucrative jobs in the West. Strakhov, who has gone on hunger strike twice in the past over cuts in science funding, said he was also alarmed by the deterioration in scientific equipment and infrastructure. He pinned the blame for the scientific community's woes on rampant tax dodging among super-rich business magnates who he said now controlled most of the country's wealth.
Vladimir Khlebodarov, head of union workers from the prestigious Academy of Sciences, told RIA news agency that scientists would mount a bigger protest action on Oct. 7 if the government failed to find the cash to pay off their salary arrears and to improve conditions in their sector. The protesting miners, mostly from the Arctic town of Vorkuta, have been sleeping outside the White House since June 11 and have vowed to stay there until the wages due to them have been paid in full. Many also demand Yeltsin's resignation. The miners helped Yeltsin to victory in a power struggle with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989 and 1991 but their support for him has evaporated amid Russia's travails.
Apart from the miners and scientists, millions of other Russian workers including teachers, doctors and army officers have to wait many months to receive their generally meager pay. The Kremlin blames the delays on rampant tax dodging and a web of indebtedness linking the public and private sectors. Also attending Thursday's protests were political radicals including Victor Anpilov, leader of the "Workers' Russia" movement that seeks the restoration of the Soviet Union.
MOSCOW - Hundreds of Russian scientists joined coal miners camped outside government headquarters in Moscow to protest unpaid wages and demand more funds for their sector.
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"Hungry scientists - Russia's shame!" and "Without science Russia will become a colony!" read banners carried by the protesters, many of whom had walked in from towns outside Moscow. Under Communist rule, Soviet authorities had generously funded science, which they saw as an important propaganda tool in their ideological battle with the West.
В России найдены рукописи, датированные 12 веком.
MOSCOW (AP) - Fragments from eight birch bark manuscripts have been found during an archaeological dig in northwest Russia, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. The manuscripts, found in Novgorod, date to the 12th century, the news agency reported Sunday. "The manuscripts are not intact, but their fragments are precious," said Valentin Yanin, head of the archaeological expedition that includes the Russian Academy of Sciences and Moscow University. ITAR-Tass did not say what the expedition was excavating.
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Сегодня в Рейкьявике открылась международная конференция под названием "Северные страны и "холодная война". От России в конференции принимают участие Максим Коробочкин из Российской Академии наук (Москва) и академик Георгий Аркадьевич Арбатов (Институт США и Канады РАН).
A four-day international conference under the title "The Nordic Countries and the Cold War" begins in Reykjavík today.
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Foreign Minister Halldór Ásgrímsson will deliver the opening speech after which a round-table discussion follows, led by Minister of Education Bjorn Bjarnason. The symposium is sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Institute in Washington DC, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and the University of Iceland. The conference is open to all and the speakers include some of the foremost experts in this field, among them: John Lewis Gaddis, professor at Yale University; James Hershberg, professor at George Washington University; Geir Lundestad, director of the Nobel Institute in Oslo; Maxim Korobochkin from the Russian Science Academy in Moscow; Svend Aage Christensen from the Danish Foreign Policy Institute; Jussi Hanhimäki from LSE; and George Arbatov, who was a chief security adviser to Soviet policy makers for decades.
On this occasion Dr. Thor Whitehead, research professor at the University of Iceland, has published a book titled "The Ally Who Came in from the Cold. A Survey of Icelandic Foreign Policy, 1945-1956." He has previously published five books in Icelandic and several essays on Iceland's foreign policy and security matters.
Новая область сотрудничества американских и российских ученых - создание биочипов, биологических микросхем на кристаллах. Такие кристаллы могут произвести революцию в медицине, фармакологии и сельском хозяйстве. С их помощью можно быстро провести тестирование биохимических элементов, включая ДНК и гены. Они могут быстро выявить болезнь, помочь в создании новых лекарственных средств. В сельском хозяйстве с их помощью можно увеличить урожай или улучшить породу скота.
CHICAGO - A new high tech partnership to produce a new microchip that could revolutionize medicine, pharmacy and agriculture stretches from North America to Russia.
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A plan to mass produce "biochips" has been announced by the US government Argonne National Laboratory, Motorola, Packard Instrument Company and the Russian Academy of Science's Englehardt Institute of Molecular Biology.
A biochip can rapidly test biochemicals, including DNA and genes. They could speed up the diagnosis of disease or help develop new medicinal drugs. In farming, they could lead to better crops and livestock breeding.
Argonne and the Russian Academy of Science's Englehardt Institute of Molecular Biology, based in Moscow, are providing 19 inventions related to the biological microchips, while Motorola and Packard will contribute a total of $19 million over five years to support the joint research. Argonne's inventions are licensed exclusively to the two companies. These biochips employ "micro-gel" technology in which microscopic structures-as many as 10,000 or more on a glass surface about the size of a single microscopic slide-act like mini-test tubes. Within each micro-gel structure, chemical compounds can be tested against biological targets to provide answers to questions such as DNA sequence, genetic variation, gene expression, protein interaction and immune response. The chips work faster than conventional methods.
"Instead of reading DNA one letter or word at a time, the biochips read whole phrases and sentences at a time," said Andrei Mirzabekov, a biologist whose research at Argonne and Engelhardt developed the biochips, in a news release.
In a telephone news conference, U.S. Energy Secretary Federico Peña called the project one of "profound importance to all Americans." The Energy Department has funded the project in conjunction with the Human Genome Project, a task to map the entire set of human chromosomes by the year 2005. Peña said it could be the birth of a new multi-billion industry.
The partners expect the greatest impact in the field of medical diagnostics. They say researchers would be able to identify in minutes mutated genes that could lead to later medical problems, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer's.
Widespread use of biochips could remove the guesswork from early treatment of many diseases. On-the-spot identification of specific bacteria, such as Streptococci in a sick child, viruses and other micro-organisms, would be possible, the partners said. Other uses are foreseen.
"With a commercial biochip to rapidly and economically perform genetic analysis, within a few years we should see better pharmaceuticals developed more rapidly," said Richard McKernan, president of Packard Instrument Co. In agriculture, he sees improved crop strength and better breeding and disease detection in animals.
Motorola vice president Rudyard Istvan declined to give revenue projections from the biochip venture but said initial production will take place in the United States by conversion of some of the company's existing plants.
The partners see drug companies as the first customers, with universities and large labs worldwide coming down the line in four to five years. Eventually, they foresee doctors having this technology in their offices.
Группа российских специалистов в области челюстно-лицевой хирургии приехала в США к своим коллегам из Американской академии лицевой пластики и восстановительной хирургии в рамках международной програмы "Лицом к лицу".
ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 12 /PRNewswire/ - A group of facial plastic surgeons from the Bonum Center in Ekaterineburg, Russia will visit their American colleagues this month as a part of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery's (AAFPRS) FACE TO FACE International program.
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The Russian team arrived in California on June 7th, where they have been meeting with facial plastic surgeons from the University of California, Davis campus, led by Craig Senders, MD. While in California, the Russian team will also meet with social services professionals to discuss the psychological and social aspects of facial deformities.
The team then traveled to Portland, Oregon on June 10th, to join with facial plastic surgeons from the Oregon Health Sciences University, for informational exchange sessions, and will finally continue on to Orlando, Florida on June 17th to participate in the AAFPRS 7th International Symposium of Facial Plastic Surgery.
The Bonum Center is an internationally renowned establishment that provides care and shelter for Russian orphans who suffer from birth defects, especially cleft lips and palates. The Bonum Center was established through the efforts of its director, Sveltlana I. Blokhina, MD, and the family of Russian President, Boris Yeltsin. The Center was also the site of a visit by the first lady, Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton during her recent trip to Russia.
Facial plastic surgeons from the AAFPRS have visited the Bonum Center for the past six years to provide pro-bono treatment and consultation to children at the Center. During these trips, more than 400 children have received treatment through the program.
This will mark the second time that a team of Russian surgeons has visited the United States to study and learn with their American colleagues. Ted A. Cook, MD, past president of the AAFPRS will host the Russian team in Portland, and expressed his excitement over the event by stating, "We are thrilled to welcome our Russian friends back to America. This trip will afford us the opportunity to exchange with them international knowledge of the most state-of-the-art techniques in facial plastic surgery."
The AAFPRS's FACE TO FACE International program is a humanitarian and educational surgical exchange program whose participants assist those abroad who suffer from facial deformities caused by birth or trauma, most of the program's patients are children. FACE TO FACE is committed to educational exchange among facial plastic surgeons throughout the world. The AAFPRS is the world's largest association of facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons with more than 2,700 members. AAFPRS members specialize in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the face, head and neck, and are board certified surgeons with training and experience in facial plastic surgery.
Уникальная международная сеть может сыграть большую роль при выявлении случаев нарушения международных договоров по ядерному оружию.
Совместный проект по мониторингу за здоровьем объединяет персонал трех клиник в Нью-Мекcико и российских специалистов из медицинского центра на базе бывшей лаборатории ядерного оружия. Ученые двух стран изучают распространение гепатита С. Этот проект интересен еще и своим возможным применением для обнаружения стран, которые разрабатывают токсичное химическое оружие.
SAN FRANCISCO - A unique international network used by medical experts in Russia and the United States could soon play a role in helping nab violators of international weapons treaties.
The Cooperative Disease Monitoring Project is linking medical staffs in three New Mexico hospitals with physicians in a medical facility near a former Russian nuclear-weapons lab to share their findings on the spread of Hepatitis C. But just as interesting as the electronic collaboration is its potential future application: a tool for ferreting out countries that develop toxic chemical weapons in violation of international law. The monitoring project brings together two countries that often oppose each other on the issue of weapons control. But where weapons treaties often take on the aura of a high-stakes chess match, the spread of disease is not measured in terms of winners and losers.
The medical communities in the United States and Russia know cooperation is essential in understanding-and eventually combating-the threat of Hepatitis C. The virus has infected roughly 3 percent of the world's population according to the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 3.9 million people in the United States carry the disease. Many who carry the disease don't realize they are infected. "Hepatitis C is apolitical," noted Alan Zelicoff, director of the Nonproliferation Initiatives Department at Sandia National Laboratory. "It's a very bad health problem in both countries, and you have epidemiologists in both countries meeting to compare notes. It's the best of science."
The monitoring project is being built upon a foundation of epidemiological evidence. Firsthand accounts of individual Hepatitis C cases are gathered and studied as a collection, which paints a picture of the spread of the disease. Raw data, which will be posted to a Web site accessible to the medical staffs at all the connected facilities, will include descriptions of symptoms and behaviors that may have led to infection. "The Web site will be like an electronic white board," explained Zelicoff, an immunologist and physicist. By linking the medical teams, Zelicoff believes it will create a "transparency regime," a behind-the-scenes organization with no political agenda that can tell the true story of suspicious, sudden illnesses-the kind of news that governments might work to cover up.
Zelicoff recalls the outbreak of anthrax in the Russian province of Sverdlovsk in 1979. Doctors from around the world attending a conference in Sverdlovsk were alarmed by news from local physicians: Numerous residents of the province were stricken by a pulmonary illness so severe that it caused 64 deaths in a two-week period. The illness turned out to be anthrax, and the Soviet government blamed the outbreak-for which the official death toll is still not known-on contaminated meat. But studies by pathologists and other researchers told a different story. The area of the outbreak was downwind from a biological-weapons lab in Sverdlovsk. A look at weather data for the period preceding the outbreak revealed that high winds were blowing from the lab to the area in Sverdlovsk where the victims died.
"This shows that epidemiology is an extremely powerful tool in determining when someone violates a treaty," Zelicoff said. In the same way, Zelicoff hopes the monitoring project will add teeth to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. This 1972 agreement stipulates that the signatories will not use biological agents, such as anthrax, to make weapons of mass destruction and that nations will cooperate in the process of inspections. Nevertheless, the doctrine governs a nation's intent to use biological agents, not the possession of them. And this means weapons inspectors have no real way of monitoring compliance. That's in part because biological toxins are playing a bigger role in the treatment of various medical conditions. Smaller, diluted forms of harmful substances, like belladonna and botulism toxin, are used to treat ailments ranging from teething to wrinkle reduction. To get to the refined tincture, a scientist must first possess the very same thing a biological weapons-maker must have: A large quantity of the impure toxin.
"This is a squishy problem because it's very hard to distinguish between impure and pure intentions," noted Zelicoff, who is a technical adviser to the US delegation on upgrading the weapons convention. Projects like Zelicoff's, or ProMED (http://www.fas.org/promed), can silently fill in the gaps. ProMED, or Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases, was started in 1993 by the Federation of American Scientists to create a network of physicians around the globe to track the spread of infectious disease as a way of monitoring biological-weapons treaty compliance. What makes this tie valid is that countries already share information about the history of infectious disease in a population, according to Dorothy Preslar, director of ProMED and Animal Health/Emerging Animal Diseases. "If you know a country has known strains of A,B, and C of a disease and then suddenly see D or E, then it is a sign of something we need to monitor," Preslar explained.
Networks such as ProMED are only effective if there are a number of participants. Preslar points to the fact that ProMED's email network goes to 150 countries as a sign of its utility. But there is more work to be done. Zelicoff hopes his project will augment the efforts of ProMED and do it one better. Instead of having closed mail lists and databases, Zelicoff wants the Cooperative Disease Monitoring Project to use the Web and multicast technologies to provide dynamic data on outbreaks so violations can be pinpointed sooner.
© 1998, News America Digital Publishing. All rights reserved.
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В Антарктиде, в районе станции Восток обнаружено огромное озеро, превышающее по площади Онтарио, и покрытое 4-километровой толщей льда. Международная группа исследователей намерена пробурить скважину, чтобы добраться до воды, в которой могут обнаружиться неизвестные науке реликтовые формы жизни. Открытие озера принадлежит российскому ученому Андрею Капице, предположившему существование подледного озера еще в 1960-х годах.
ANDREY KAPITSA, the Russian scientist who discovered a vast lost world beneath 12,000 feet of polar ice, is planning what could be one of the most dramatic explorations of the century.
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Kapitsa, who will be giving a lecture at the Royal Geographical Society on Wednesday, is one of an international team that hopes to send a robot in search of strange life in a body of water the size of Lake Ontario, sealed off from the rest of the planet by millions of years of ice. A geographer at Moscow State University, Kapitsa was born in Cambridge in 1931 when his father, the famous Soviet Nobel prizewinner Pyotr Kapitsa, was working with Rutherford at the Cavendish Laboratory, first went to Antarctica in 1956.
He predicted that shallow lakes ought to exist under huge depths of ice: giant puddles of meltwater formed by natural heat seeping up from the rocks below, and insulated - like an Inuit in an igloo - from the freezing climate by the icecap itself. He "discovered" Lake Vostok in the sixties, and yet failed to spot the message in the data for another 30 years. In 1964, and again in 1966, he tried to make seismic readings of the ice at the Soviet Vostok base high on the polar icecap. The first time he got a blur of "noise" which obscured waves reflected from the base of the ice. The second time, using seismometers buried in the ice, he got superb results - but missed the most telling piece of information. Most of Kapitsa's seismic data disappeared in a fire in Moscow, and he forgot the matter. But a few years ago, while working in Cambridge, he and some colleagues discovered - almost by accident - the startling truth about Lake Vostok.
The British scientists were studying airborne echo-soundings over the Vostok base, and were getting a mystifying reading. Kapitsa remembered his own puzzlement, went back to Moscow and found that the only seismograms to have survived the fire were those he made in 1966. "I looked at them and saw the mistake," he says. "The mistake was very interesting. When seismic waves go through the water, longitudinal waves return and latitudinal waves do not. There were no latitudinal waves. That was the proof that it was water."
The drillers are poised some 150 metres above the lake, but they will go no further for the moment. Kapitsa and the team of British and French scientists are consulting with Nasa, the US space agency, which wants to land a probe on Jupiter's moon Europa, itself an icesheet with an ocean underneath. The borehole is full of driller's chemicals like kerosene and Freon, which must not contaminate the lake. But in a few seasons, they will have devised a one-way robot that can slip into the lake, sample the chemistry of the water and start sending back data. Then they have to find a way of bringing back a sample of the lake muds, because in them will be the whole recent history of the lake - and of Antarctica itself.
"Everybody is thinking of the possibility of life. There is everything there for life - there is water, there is oxygen, there is heat. There will be no Nessie down there," he says. "But the bacterial life could be quite different."
Группа российских ученых под руководством министра энергетики Евгения Адамова посетит Индию с кратким визитом. Одна из целей визита - завершить сделку по продаже двух ядерных реакторов мощностью 1000-мегаватт.
NEW DELHI, India (AP) - Russia's planned sale of an atomic reactor to India will continue despite the five nuclear tests New Delhi conducted last month, an Indian official said Sunday.
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Russia renewed an agreement last year to sell India two 1,000-megawatt reactors for $1 billion each. The agreement was first signed in 1988 but Russia postponed it following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
"A Russian scientific team led by Energy Minister Yevegeny Adamov will shortly visit India to finalize the deal," Rajagopalan Chidambaram, chairman of India's Atomic Energy Commission, was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency.
The plants will be located in Kudankulam in the southern state of Tamil Nadu and will be monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, he said. Russia will supply enriched fuel for the lifetime of the proposed lightwater reactor, the news agency quoted Chidambaram as saying. Last year, Assistant Secretary of State Robin Raphel told Congress that Russian exports of nuclear power reactors or missile-related equipment and technology to India would be of concern. But Moscow told New Delhi their bilateral cooperation was not open to comment by a third country. India's 10 nuclear power plants produce 1,700 megawatts of power, Chidambaram said.
The Indian government has said it wants to increase its nuclear power capability tenfold in the next 25 years because of an acute power shortage that hampers its economic development. India exploded five underground nuclear devices last month, prompting neighboring Pakistan to retaliate with six nuclear tests a few weeks later. The tests were widely condemned by nuclear powers and industrialized nations but hailed by many poor countries.
The United States, Japan, Germany and several others imposed economic and political sanctions on India and Pakistan. On Friday, the world's eight leading industrial powers agreed to postpone all development loans to both nations.
По мнению автора статьи, российские ученые много сделали для становления программы ядерных исследований в Индии и Пакистане, но роль США и их западных союзников также очень велика.
WASHINGTON, June 12 (UPI) - To many in the West, the people who developed the nuclear bomb programs in India and Pakistan are faceless engineers and scientists who worked in secret for years. But in fact, many of the key players have been known in Asia for decades, given exhalted status, and revered as national heroes. And while Washington may choose to be shocked at the development, the state programs responsible for the recent round of underground nuclear tests have been in place for many years, and shaped by many influences beyond the borders of the two nations.
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In many cases, analysts and experts agree, those influences have been either Western, or have arisen from allies of the Western powers, a fact that is often overlooked today.
Among the "fathers" of India's nuclear program, a small handful of dedicated scientists played key roles.
Dr. Homi Bhabba started it all, quietly, by launching India's nuclear program in the 1940's.
Next came Dr. Raja Ramanna, former head of the Indian Atomic Research Center. According to Matthew Baker, an analyst with Strategic Forecasting of Austin, Texas, an international consulting company, Ramanna presided over the growth of India's nuclear program through the critical years of the 1970's and 1980's. He was in charge when India exploded its first atomic bomb in 1974. Ramanna, who played such a critical role in the Indian nuclear program, got his Bachelors degree from Madras Christian College in India, and his Ph.D. from the University of London in 1948. He also attended the Royal School of Music in London as well.
Dr. A. Q. Khan, key figure in the Pakistani nuclear program, got his Ph.D. in metallurgy from a German university, and he is believed to have stolen drawings for a nuclear centrifuge while doing studies in the Netherlands.
According to George Friedman of Strategic Forecasting, the centrifuge drawings may have given the early Paksistani program a critical boost. Also, Friedman said, most of the top nuclear scientists of both nations attended university training at some time in both Europe and the United States.
"Most of the younger ones attended university in the U.S.," Friedman said. Friedman said programs in both countries also benefited from Russian and Soviet influences. "Russia, under the Soviet Union, has assisted India in its nuclear technology programs at least three times in the past," Friedman explained to United Press International.
In 1976, the USSR became the main supplier of heavy water to India. The substance is a key component of nuclear weaponry. In 1985, Friedman says, Indian Nuclear Power Corporation purchased two 440 megawatt light-water reactors from Russia. Four years later, Russia provided assistance in the construction of a pair of atomic power plants in India, which generated 2,000 megawatts of power. And along the way, Russian training and scientific exchange programs have provided additional expertise and access to industrial resources. "There is no question that the Russians have helped," Friedman said.
While recent rumors coming from Israel as well as Pakistan have suggested that Israel has helped the Indian program evolve, Friedman remains skeptical. While he points to Israeli concerns that Pakistan could transfer nuclear weapons technology to Arab states, a possible reason for the Indian assistance, Friedman suggests that the increased risk of proliferation arises from Pakistani responses to Indian testing, hardly a reason for Israel to help advance the Indian program. Israeli aid to India, thus, would increase the risk, not lessen it. "Nevertheless, the rumors are rife that Israel was involved," Friedman adds.
And what of Pakistan? Heroes of its nuclear club include Dr. A. Q. Khan, the former director of the Kahuta Research Laboratories. Khan received assistance from sources in the Netherlands, where Friedman said Pakistan was able to buy centrifugal technology which it used to manufacture enriched uranium.
Dr. Ashfaq Ahmad, the chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, is believed to have received assistance from Canadian nuclear science teams. Above all, Pakistan has been the beneficiary of assistance from China.
While the level of aid from China and Russia has largely driven the Indian and Pakistani development schedules, Friedman and Baker point out, the West and its allies have also played crucial roles in coaxing the nuclear genie out of the bottle once again.
С 1998 года в Сибирском отделении РАН издается новый ежеквартальный математический журнал. Приводится содержание 3-го номера.
The Publishing House of Siberian Division of Russian Academy of Sciences from 1998 began to issue the new quarterly Siberian Journal on Numerical Mathematics (SibJNM).
The editorial board consists of the well-known specialists in numerical mathematics and its applications from Siberia and from all over Russia.
The aim of this action is to demonstrate, in concentrated form, to the Russian and International Mathematical Community the latest most important investigations of Siberian numerical mathematicians in various scientific and engineering fields. Indeed, the cooperation with the numerical mathematicians from the other regions of Russia and from other countries is welcome.
Our Journal will be distributed in Russia, in the Western and Eastern Europe, in the United States and in Japan.
Institute of Comp. Math. and Mathem. Geophysics,
Russian Academy of Sciences, Siberian Branch,
Lavrentjeva 6, Novosibirsk 630090, RUSSIA
Managing Editor: V.A.Vasilenko
Institute of Comp. Math. and Mathem. Geophysics,
Russian Academy of Sciences, Siberian Branch,
Lavrentjeva 6, Novosibirsk 630090, RUSSIA
Scientific secretary: V.P.Il'in
Institute of Comp. Math. and Mathem. Geophysics,
Russian Academy of Sciences, Siberian Branch,
Lavrentjeva 6, Novosibirsk 630090, RUSSIA
Main SibJNM Topics
- Numerical Mathematics
- Mathematical and Numerical Modeling
- Applied Informatics
- Automatization of Scientific and Applied Studies
Editorial Office of SibJNM,
prospect Lavrentieva, 6,
630090, Novosibirsk, Russia.
Tel: (007) 3832-396545
Fax: (007) 3832-343783
Contents of Volume 1, 1998 Number 3
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- I.A. Blatov
On the incomplete factorization for fast Fourier transform method for the discrete Poisson equation in a curvelinear boundary domain (in Russian).
A cascadic multigrid algorithm in finite element method for the three-dimensional Dirichlet problem (in Russian).
- V.A.Debelov, A.M.Matsokin, and S.A.Upol'nikov
Plane subdivision and set operations (in Russian).
- A.I. Zadorin
Numerical solution of the equation with a small parameter and the point source on the infinite interval (in Russian).
- B.G. Mikhailenko and O.N. Soboleva
Absorbing boundary conditions for the elastic theory equations (in Russian).
- V.F. Raputa, A.I. Krylova, and G.A. Platov
An inverse problem of estimating the total emission for the nonstationary boundary layer of the atmosphere (in Russian).
- G.I. Shishkin
Grid approximations of singularly perturbed systems of parabolic convection-diffusion equations with counterflow.
Конференция "Поведение животных: механизмы ориентации и навигации".
The Conference is organized by Institutes of Russian Academy of Sciences: Institute for Biology of Inland Waters (Borok), Severtsev Institute of Ecology and Evolution, and Institute of Physics of Earth.
The aim of the Conference is to present and discuss experimental and theoretical results of studies on searching for food, mates etc., migration and homing. We would like to bring together the experimental behaviour scientists, field researchers, physiologists and modellers who deal with various animal taxa as well as different sensory modalities.
The main themes include but are not restricted to:
Participants should submit one page abstracts (to be published before the Conference opening). Authors should make every effort to analyze mechanisms involved in orientation and navigation, rather than present purely descriptive results.
- Laboratory and field studies of behavioural algorithms the animals use in the course of visual, chemical, electromagnetic, acoustic, and other orientation;
- Peripheral and central neurophysiological processes involved;
- Computer simulation of orientation and underlying physiological mechanisms (processes).
The reasons why we would like to held the conference in Borok:
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- Because of financial problems, researchers from former Soviet Union are rarely able to attend international conferences on animal behaviour and related topics (eg. design of autonomous agents). The conference held in Russia should help them to get in touch with researchers from abroad. We expect funding from Russian Science Foundation; in this case, it might be possible to waive out registration fees for Russian residents.
- The cost of stay in Russia is much lower than in Europe, especially in a small town. For this reason, regular registration fee for participants from abroad will not exceeds $200 ($50 for young scientists). Hotel daily prices are in the range between $8 to $40. So we believe that more younger researchers from Europe will be able to take part in the conference.
- In case if we bring together sufficient number of researchers from European countries in Organizing Committee, then we will be eligible to submit a proposal for support to an international fund. In this case it might be possible to publish full papers in conference proceedings and/or make registration fees very low.
- Borok is a nice small town in a rural wood area at the bank of Volga river, exactly at the point where Volga came into Rybinsk reservoire. It was build for the staff of Institute for Biology of Inland Waters. Several old towns (founded in 12th century) are located within two hours' car trip. The tentative dates of the conference are typically the time of "Indian" summer and we plan steamer trip around the reservoire and/or bus trip to an old town.
Международная школа "Речь и компьютер", цель которой обсудить наиболее важные темы взаимодействия "человек-компьютер" с помощью голоса и наиболее перспективные области применения диалога.
Organized by St-Petersburg Institute for Informatics and Automation of the Russian Academy of Sciences (SPIIRAS) in cooperation with State Pedagogical University of Russia.
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Supported by the European Speech Communication Association (ESCA) and European Network in Language and Speech (ELSNET).
Sponsored by INTAS and Russian funds.
The International workshop "Speech and Computer" - SPECOM'98 is aimed to discuss the most important topics of man-computer interaction by voice and more perspective applied areas of speech dialogue.
TOPICS to be covered include, but are not limited to:
Conceptual models for natural spoken language;
Models for spoken language semantic interpretation;
Integration of diverse knowledge in the speech understanding process;
Using prosodical knowledge in speech semantic interpretation;
Telephone natural language response generation;
Speech dialogue models creation;
Spontaneous speech perception modeling;
Multi-lingual and multi-modal systems;
Speech recognition for dialogue systems;
Conceptual approaches to dialogue educational systems;
Psychological approaches to speech understanding;
Чем ближе к экватору находится площадка для запуска спутников, тем меньше топлива требуется для вывода их на орбиту. Но большая часть экватора проходит через водную поверхность. В пятидесятых годах советский ученый выдвинул идею запуска спутников с плавающей в океане платформы.
We all rely on satellites, but getting them into space is expensive. Tom Standage reports from St Petersburg on a radical new approach due to lift off later this year IT all sounds like something out of a James Bond film.
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At a remote shipyard on the Arctic Circle, a vast floating platform, larger than a football field, is constructed by an unknown multinational organisation. The platform steams to a specially constructed land base and docks with a ship.The ship looks unremarkable, but inside is a huge hangar where rockets are being constructed on a production line. A completed rocket is disgorged from the back of the ship and hoisted on to the platform. The two vessels then head for a carefully chosen spot in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Finally, from the ship's sophisticated command centre, veterans of the Soviet and American space programmes launch the rocket and its payload into space.
Fortunately, there is no cat-stroking villain, there are no plans to hold the world to ransom, and no ultimatum will be issued to the United Nations. For this scenario doesn't come from the pages of a spy thriller, but the business plan of Sea Launch, the world's first sea-borne satellite launching company.
This month, construction of the command ship and launch platform is due to be completed, and the first rocket launch is scheduled for October. The concept behind Sea Launch is simple: the most efficient place to launch a satellite into a geostationary orbit - where the satellite appears to hover over a fixed point - is from a site on the equator, where the Earth's rotation provides an extra push. The linear velocity at the equator is 50 per cent greater than, for example, at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, at latitude 47 degrees north. The farther from the equator the launch, the more fuel is needed to get the satellite into its final orbit. But most of the equator lies over water. So why not launch from a floating platform in the middle of the ocean?
The idea was first proposed in the Fifties, by a Russian academic. More recently, one proposal suggested using a modified oil tanker as a launch platform, with the launch pad at one end and the control tower at the other. But this was deemed too dangerous. Then in 1994 a new plan was devised, involving a launch platform remotely controlled from a separate command ship. So, in 1995, four companies teamed up to form the Sea Launch Company: Boeing, the world's largest aerospace company, with a 40 per cent stake; Kvaerner, the Anglo-Norwegian engineering firm and the largest shipbuilder in Europe (20 per cent); RSC Energia, a Russian rocket science company (25 per cent); and Yuzhnoye/Yuzmash, a Ukrainian rocket building business (15 per cent).
Essentially, Kvaerner has built the unique launch platform and command ship; Boeing is providing the control systems; and the Russians and Ukrainians are providing the actual rockets, modified versions of the reliable Zenit launcher. But launching rockets at sea has never been done, which presents a number of technical challenges. For a start, the launch platform has to stay still. This will be accomplished using dynamic positioning technology borrowed from the oil industry: computer-controlled thrusters will ensure that the platform stays put, while a sophisticated trim and heel system will maintain stability during the launch.
Next, special atmospheric hangars are necessary on both the launch platform and the command ship to protect the rockets from the elements on the high seas, while the rockets themselves have been fitted with new control systems, improved fuel tanks and other modifications reflecting the unusual conditions in which they will be launched.
Finally, a huge deflector is needed under the launch platform. Without the deflector, the rocket's exhaust gases would boil the sea beneath it in the few seconds between ignition and takeoff, resulting in huge clouds of salty steam that would damage both the rocket and the launch platform. The deflector forces the exhaust gases out to the sides of the platform, and is cooled by high-pressure jets of fresh water. The engineers are confident that launches will even be possible in relatively choppy waters with three-metre waves. A buoy is currently relaying detailed weather readings via satellite from the launch site, and, based on its results, Sea Launch is predicting a 95 per cent launch availability. If the engineers really have solved the technical difficulties associated with launching at sea, the rewards could be substantial.
Sea Launch will be able to put a satellite weighing up to 5000kg into geostationary orbit, using far less fuel than would be required when launching from higher latitudes. Less fuel means lower costs. What's more, a sea-based launch pad costs less than a land-based one, and requires fewer staff. These savings can be reflected in lower launch prices. At the moment, the going rate for such a launch is about $70m-$100m, but by undercutting this price Sea Launch hopes to capture a large chunk of the growing market. And because satellites put into orbit by Sea Launch will use less of their on-board fuel initially, they can maintain a stable orbit for longer, providing a far better return on investment.
Another advantage is the location of the specially constructed Sea Launch home port, in Long Beach, California - close to the satellite industry's home turf. So much for the theory. Three years and £300 million later, the launch platform, Odyssey, is now nearing completion at a shipyard in Vyborg, north of St Petersburg. It is, quite simply, enormous: 436ft long, and with a displacement of more than 50,000 tons, making it one of the largest semi-submersible structures in the world. Based on an extended, reconditioned oil platform, it is self-propelled, capable of speeds of up to 12 knots, and is controlled from a hi-tech bridge stuffed with computers, radar screens and map readouts. Over 3,000 tons of specialist rocket-handling equipment have been installed, including huge fuel storage tanks, a mobile transporter/erector that carries the rocket on rails from its hangar to the launch position, and additional control systems that enable the whole platform to be remotely controlled during launches from the command ship three miles away.
The platform also has accommodation for 68 crew and space scientists. Meanwhile, the assembly and command vessel, Sea Launch Commander, has just completed final fitting at St Petersburg. Constructed at the Kvaerner Govan shipyard in Glasgow, the 650ft-long ship has since had 600 tons of rocket control equipment installed. There's a clean room, where technicians prepare satellites for launch. The huge control room, filled with banks of screens, digital readouts and countdown clocks, looks just like Mission Control at Nasa. The superstructure bristles with antennae, satellite dishes and a huge weather radar. And it's easy to imagine one of those huge set-piece battles from a James Bond film taking place in the enormous assembly hangar below deck, where the first rocket is now being pieced together. The Sea Launch Commander has accommodation for 240 people, including luxury accommodation ("I have been expecting you, Mister Bond") for customers and VIPs.
Each launch will involve a three-week round trip from the Long Beach base. The prospect of a luxury cruise, with a spectacular rocket launch in the middle, is expected to be a key selling point to potential Sea Launch customers. There are even a swimming pool and cinema. Later this month, the command ship and launch platform will set off for Long Beach. They are expected to arrive in July and August respectively. If all goes according to plan, the first launch will take place in October, from a site in the Pacific about 1,000 miles south of Hawaii.
Sea Launch's debut will put the Hughes Galaxy 11 satellite into orbit. It was the failure of the Galaxy 4 satellite last month that knocked out 80 per cent of pagers in the United States, along with a handful of TV and radio stations. Although service was resumed within two days by switching to other satellites, it was a reminder of just how dependent we are becoming on satellite technology. This dependence will only increase in future; one estimate puts the total value of the satellite manufacturing and launch industry at $50 billion by 2000.
This is where Sea Launch hopes to cash in: the company is aiming for a 20 per cent share of the geostationary launch market, in the face of competition from traditional land-based Ariane and Proton launchers. Six launches a year for the next three years have already been booked by Hughes and Loral, another satellite maker. If all goes well, launching capacity can be increased to up to 12 a year, simply by launching two rockets on each trip. (The second rocket would be stored in the command ship and loaded on to the platform after the first launch; the platform can store enough fuel for two launches).
If the Sea Launch concept is proven, the company expects others to follow its lead. Indeed, it is in many ways at the vanguard of the emerging commercial space industry, with its multinational approach and its reliance on technology from both the Soviet and US space programmes. Other companies in the running include Pioneer Rocketplane and Kelly Space, both of which are working on reusable spaceplanes; SpaceDev, a nascent asteroid mining company; and Lunacorp, which wants to put its own rover on the Moon. So a lot more than just a satellite will be riding on the first launch in October.
Admittedly, the Zenit is one of the more reliable rocket designs, deliberately chosen for its Eighties' technology. But nobody is taking any chances. After explaining how confident he was that the first launch would be a success, one of the rocket scientists involved was quick to touch wood. So far, the Sea Launch project has much in common with the plot of a Bond film. Its backers are betting that the similarities will extend to a happy ending.
Россия отложила запуск иностранных спутников, принадлежащих Австралии, Чили, Германии, Израилю и Таиланду, из-за небольших неполадок в оборудовании.
Для запусков будет использован усовершенствованный вариант ракетоносителя - в соответствии с проектом "Sea Launch", в котором участвуют Россия, Украина, США и Норвегия. Первый запуск предполагается произвести в октябре.
Russia on Wednesday delayed the launch of six satellites, including five foreign-made probes, for the second time in two days due to a booster malfunction, a military space forces spokesman said.
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Alexander Buchin said the launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan was postponed for a second time after Tuesday's attempt, which was delayed for 24 hours due to a minor problem with launch pad equipment. "The Russian Space Agency must set a new launch date this afternoon," Buchin said.
Agency officials were not immediately available for comment. A Ukrainian-made Zenit-2 booster was scheduled to blast off at 0540 GMT with a Russian-made scientific Resurs-O satellite and five probes belonging to Australia, Chile, Germany, Israel and Thailand. Twenty-seven of the two-stage Zenit-2 have been launched, but seven launches have failed.
In 1995 two separate attempts to put Israeli and Chilean satellites into orbit with Russian-made boosters failed. Russia has launched several German satellites in the past. The current launch is the first contract with Australia and Thailand. An upgraded version of the booster will be used for commercial launches under a Sea Launch project which involves Russia, Ukraine, the United States and Norway.
The first launch is scheduled for October.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., June 12 (UPI) - Shuttle Discovery darted through steamy Florida skies to return to its home port, completing an unprecedented three-year program to practice joint space operations with Russia.
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Commander Charles Precourt circled Discovery over the Kennedy Space Center to burn off speed before beelining toward a three-mile- (4.8 kilometer) long, water-wrapped landing strip. The shuttle touched ground at 2 p.m. EDT, finishing NASA's 91st shuttle mission.
The shuttle returned with an additional crewmember: Andrew Thomas, the last of seven astronauts to live on the Russian space station.
Radioed astronaut Scott Horowitz from Mission Control, "Andy, they'll have your lasagna and Oreo cookie ice cream waiting when you get there." Sounding cheerful and strong, Thomas replied, "I want to thank you all for bringing me home and giving me a great ride. I really enjoyed it. And as you said, I'm looking foward to that first meal." Thomas made the requests for his homecoming dinner after 141 days in space.
In addition to Thomas, the shuttle carried back more than 2 tons of scientific equipment, support gear and other items from Mir. The cargo included three momentoes from the shuttle-Mir program, which were passed on to NASA managers with the intention that they be flown to the International Space Station.
Precourt handed an American flag, a spacewalking tool and an optical data storage disc to NASA administrator Dan Goldin shortly after landing. Said Goldin, "It's not the end its just the start of a new phase." Goldin then handed the items to shuttle-Mir program director Frank Culbertson, who will be overseeing operations for the new station. Said Culbertson, "This is a happy and a sad moment. It's wonderful to see it successfully completed... We learned how to work better in space... and we did what we said we were going to do."
Still aboard the shuttle are dozens of computer discs holding information on how an antimatter detection instrument worked during its trial run in orbit. Shuttle communications problems hampered the experiment, but scientists are hopeful the stored data will provide enough information to determine if the intrument will work as expected when it is installed on the new space station in 2002.
NASA has one more shuttle mission planned an October science mission that includes former Mercury astronaut John Glenn, 76, as a research subject for geriatrics experiments before space station assembly flights begin in November.
Discovery's return caps a three-year, nine-flight pilot program intended to familarize the United States and Russian space agencies with each others' operations, training and management styles. Russian space officials plan to keep Mir operating for at least another year and possibly until December 1999 without U.S. participation.
NASA, however, will be keeping a close watch on the Russian space program to make sure sufficient resources are being devoted to Russian segments of the new International Space Station. Financial problems in Russia have already delayed the start of station assembly until November at the earliest. Thomas' return to Earth ends an extraordinarly rich period in U.S. spaceflight history, which includes more time in orbit during the three- year shuttle-Mir program 977 days than during 17 years of shuttle flights.
Шесть спутников-"шпионов", запущенных Россией, вышли на неверную орбиту. Однако, по словам авторитетных источников, они все же могут передавать информацию секретным службам.
Six "spy mailbox" satellites launched by Russia have strayed into the wrong orbit, but authorities said yesterday the satellites still could transmit secret messages to and from intelligence agents.
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The six satellites - reportedly designed for the intelligence branch of the Russian Defense Ministry - were launched simultaneously early Tuesday from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northwestern Russia. By Tuesday night, some were reported to be having trouble reaching the proper orbit. Yesterday, officials said all six had gone astray.
The error was caused by an incorrect command, the Interfax news agency quoted an unidentified military official as saying.
The satellites were Strela-3s - also known as "space mailboxes for Russian spies," the Russky Telegraf newspaper said. Strela-3 satellites record radio messages transmitted by Russian intelligence agents throughout the world and relay those messages to intelligence headquarters in Moscow. The satellites also can transmit messages sent from Moscow to agents abroad.
Until recently, the satellite system was highly classified. Russia's former military intelligence chief, Fyodor Ladygin, confirmed its existence when the government decided to produce a commercial version to earn cash for the underfunded space and military programs, Russky Telegraf said.
Although the six satellites launched Tuesday were to have gone into a round orbit 868 miles above Earth, they instead settled into an elliptical orbit, passing 812 miles above Earth at the lowest point and 1,171 miles at the highest point, said mission control spokesman Anatoly Kiryushkin. The military still intends to use the satellites but will have to adjust some settings, Kiryushkin said.
When the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) launches a super-secret intelligence satellite for the first time on an Atlas III rocket sometime in the next few years, Russian technicians will be on the scene in Cape Canaveral and closely involved in the process. That is because the rocket engine that powers Lockheed Martin Corp.'s Atlas III is the product of a joint venture between Pratt & Whitney and RD AMROSS, a Russian space company that has also built most engines on Russia's ballistic missiles, according to government and commercial specialists. The NRO, which normally uses U.S. Air Force-purchased boosters, had put the launch contract out for competitive bid to save money and Lockheed Martin won the competition with its Russian engine, said Rick Oburn, a spokesman for the agency. "It will be the first time we've used a major part in a booster from a foreign supplier," he added. Oburn said Russian technicians will be on site "to make sure the booster vehicle does its part, but they won't get involved with the payload," which is classified.
Republican members of Congress have focused their recent criticism on the threat of technology transfers involved in launching U.S. satellites on Chinese rockets. But they have ignored the much larger commercial exchange in space activities that has been taking place between American businesses and government agencies and onetime military entities of the former Soviet Union. Lockheed Martin is far from alone in working closely with the Russians.
In August, Space Systems/Loral Inc. will send 12 of its Globalstar communications satellites into space from Russia aboard one Zenit2 rocket. That system, which launches Moscow's spy satellites, is a bigger, commercial version of Russia's SS-18 ICBM, a multiwarhead nuclear weapon that is Russia's major threat to the U.S. mainland. The Zenit2, which is being used to carry other commercial loads for U.S. companies, will take off from the Cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, which is still run by the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces and launches Moscow's ICBM tests and its intelligence satellites. When Loral or other U.S. satellites are involved in a Zenit2 launch, representatives of the Defense Technology Security Administration (DTSA), the Pentagon's technology watchdog agency, are on the scene at Baikonur, which has only been open to outsiders since the early 1990s.
In a second joint venture started by Lockheed in 1993, the U.S. company sells room on launches involving the Russian-made Proton rocket. The Proton, which also is launched from Baikonur, has a backlog of 20 payloads from U.S. and European companies and the Russian military, according to industry publications. In December 1997, a Proton rocket failed to put into orbit an American-built satellite that had been purchased by China, Andrews said. In a scenario that has echoes of the technology transfer issues before Congress, the Russians did their own investigation of the failure, but refused to provide Lockheed Martin with the complete results out of concern that the U.S. would acquire new technology, Andrews said. When a partial version of the accident report was provided by the Russians, Lockheed Martin was told by the State Department that the Russian analysis could not be shared for security reasons with the Chinese, who had contracted with the American corporation for the launch. A former senior Pentagon official who is associated with one of the space technology companies said yesterday that his associates who have been involved in Russian launches "inevitably learn something from the other side, but it is a question of how important that information is."
The Atlas III with its Russian engine is also competing to be used in the future by the U.S. Air Force for launching its satellites, according to a Lockheed Martin spokesman. Boeing Co. has its own joint space venture with the Russians. The Zenit2 will be the basis for a booster that the company plans for a new sea-launched system scheduled to be placed on a platform near the equator.
The Russians will provide the critical fourth stage for that newly proposed launch system. During hours of testimony Thursday on Chinese missile launches and technology transfer before the House Committee on Science and the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, Russia has been hardly mentioned.
A Lockheed Martin spokesman said the Russian space launch program is more than three times larger than that of China. "We're playing in a political game," said a former Pentagon official who now works for one of the space contractors, when discussing recent Capitol Hill charges about the impact of Chinese space launches. A former senior intelligence official yesterday recalled a meeting during the 1991 Persian Gulf War in which Pentagon officials were fearful they were running out of radio bandwidth to transfer intelligence to American forces in Saudi Arabia.
"It was an early discussion on how to go forward," the now-retired officer said, "and the discussion was about leasing space owned by Comsat [a U.S. communications company] on a Russian satellite." He said he was not sure if the need arose, "but it was a sign of what we are coming to now".
© Copyright 1998.
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