The Partnership: A History of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project

Round Three - Moscow


[165] Glynn Lunney, Bob Gilruth, and their 18 companions arrived in Moscow on Saturday evening, 27 November 1971, where their welcome by members of the Soviet delegation was given considerable attention by the Soviet news media. The Americans were processed quickly through immigration and customs formalities, arriving at the Hotel Rossiya about 90 minutes after landing. On the way to the hotel, Lunney and Bushuyev, accompanied by an interpreter, had a pleasant chat about their past work and plans for the coming week, a discussion which was continued later that evening at a Soviet-hosted dinner at the Rossiya. Sunday was essentially a free day, and most of the Americans went on a special bus tour of Moscow, which included the People's Exhibition of Economic Achievements. Lunney noted that the space display at the exhibition grounds had some new exhibits - two full-scale Soyuz in docked configuration, the Luna 16 lander, which had visited the moon and returned with a small sample of lunar soil, and a replica of the moon rover Lunokhod.10

On Monday morning, the NASA delegation went to the Institute of Automatics and Telemechanics, a 30-minute bus ride from the hotel. The Institute, sponsored by the Soviet Academy of Sciences and devoted to the study of automatic control systems (cybernetics), was also home base for Academician Petrov. The NASA group gathered with the Soviets for a plenary session in a large lecture room. After introductory remarks and some discussion of the week's agenda, Lunney gave the Soviets two papers. One summarized the present status of the American long-term technical requirements and the other details of a possible Apollo/Salyut mission.11 When the Soviets reciprocated at the end of the morning session, the two groups spent the remainder of the day translating and studying. The Soviets were reluctant to begin any detailed discussions until they had an opportunity to more fully understand this new material. While one of the American interpreters read aloud in Russian to the Soviets from the NASA papers, a quickly transcribed version of shorthand notes taken from a verbal translation of the Soviet materials was prepared for the Americans.

In addition to these basic documents, Lunney and his colleagues argued for and obtained a chance to present for the entire Soviet group highlights of the U.S. mission model and docking mechanism studies. The quick summary gave everyone, including Academician Petrov and his executive staff, a basic understanding of the NASA ideas for a joint mission. With this background, the three Working Groups could go their separate ways, but they would be negotiating within a more clearly understood framework.

Lunney reported that in Working Group 1, which he chaired, the Soviet side had "very capable experts on the subjects of life support and mission planning." [166] At various times during the week, the men were able to divide into smaller subgroups to discuss specific topics. With the aid of the interpreters, "a good deal of understanding was reached, and several enclosures on specific subjects were prepared for inclusion in the minutes." Looking at the experiences of the other groups, Lunney commented, "Working Group #2 also used the splintering technique because of the multitude of systems that were covered. . . . Working Group #3 on the docking mechanism tended to work more as a group . . . because of the nature of their [topic]." He believed that by following the Low precedent - preparing ahead of time documents similar to those agreements that were desired - the NASA representatives in Working Groups 1 and 2 "were able to lead most of the discussions and focus on the parts of the problem that we felt [were] significant."12

The remainder of the week (29 November-3 December) was spent in Working Group sessions, with the specialists devoting most of Friday and part of Saturday documenting their results. Those who could get free that weekend were taken to Star City, where they toured the cosmonaut training facilities. Lunney saw K. P. Feoktistov there, and the designer-cosmonaut gave his American friend an in-depth briefing on the Soyuz control systems. After a stand-up buffet luncheon given by the Commanding General of Star City, the Working Group members returned to Moscow. Sunday was spent sightseeing, with a trip to the Zagorsk monastery, about 81 kilometers from Moscow.

On Monday, 6 December, the delegations met a final time at the Institute to verify and sign the minutes of their meetings, with the executive staffs reading and authenticating their minutes and those of the Working Groups. The Summary of Results, which included the minutes of each Working Group as attachments, was signed at the House of Scientists that evening.* Lunney subsequently commented that this whole procedure was "a fairly tedious process, [but] sufficient time must be programmed for this not-very-productive necessity."13

* The names of the signatories to these and subsequent joint minutes are presented in appendix C.

10. Lunney to distribution, memo, "Trip Report on Visit to Moscow on Compatible Rendezvous and Docking" [n.d.].

11. The two American papers were NASA, MSC," U.S. Summary of Possible Apollo-Salyut Test Mission," Nov. 1971; and NASA, MSC, "U.S. Summary of Present Status of Technical Requirements," Nov. 1971.

12. Lunney to distribution, memo, "Trip Report" [n.d.].

13. Ibid.