Executive Intelligence Review


Putin Recognizes U.S. Apollo-Soyuz Astronaut as Model in U.S.-Russia Cooperation

May 9, 2018 (EIRNS)—One month ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded retired U.S. astronaut Tom Stafford the “Order of Friendship” for his “great contribution to developing cooperation in the field of space exploration between the Russian Federation and the United States of America.” Since his command of the American ship in the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975, Stafford has played a central and unwavering role in promoting and carrying out joint space programs with the Soviet Union, and after 1991, with the Russian Federation. For his role in that first joint manned mission, in the midst of the Cold War, Stafford was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, reported Oklahoma television station KFOR on April 10, from Stafford’s hometown of Weatherford.

“What made Tom so effective” during the Apollo Soyuz Test Project program, former flight director and Johnson Space Center Director Chris Kraft told KFOR “is that the Soviets trusted him, and so did the Americans.”

Stafford and his Russian counterpart in the 1975 mission, cosmonaut Alexey Leonov, have maintained a close personal friendship over these decades. Stafford became a staunch supporter and advocate of cooperation with Russia, from which he never wavered, regardless of political ups and downs. He was the American expert responsible for safety considerations for Space Shuttle visits to the Russian Mir space station in the 1990s, and for technical decisions regarding the International Space Station, for the past 20 years.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the ISS, a documentary filmed on the station, “Above It All,” is due to be released in December. The film’s experienced writer/director Al Reinert, and producer/editor John Aldrich, interviewed Tom Stafford last year.

From their interview, the documentary describes how the Apollo-Soyuz mission came together from a proposal by engineers from the two countries, who shared a dream.