The Partnership: A History of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project|
A Report to Congress
Despite these difficulties with public
affairs, George Low was still genuinely optimistic about the
prospects for a successful flight. And even on topics such as public
affairs, there was hope since NASA had not given up any of its
traditional openness and since the Soviets seemed willing to
negotiate in good faith. So upon his return from the Soviet Union,
Low touched base with Chairman Olin Teague of the House Committee on
Science and Astronautics. In a letter, he told Teague about his
various chats with the Soviet space leaders, summarized the results
of the joint talks, and described his visits to the space facilities.
Among the significant results produced by the Working Group sessions,
It was agreed to conduct five
joint scientific experiments on the mission involving biological
interaction, microbial exchange, a multipurpose furnace, artificial
solar eclipse and ultraviolet absorption.[*]
It was agreed that there would be reciprocal
participation of US and USSR specialists in preflight fit checks at
the launch site of compatible hardware such as TV cameras, speaker
box, etc. in the flight Soyuz and Apollo spacecraft.
With regard to the Apollo VHF/AM communication
equipment, it was agreed that the US specialists will participate in
the checkout of the equipment after delivery to the USSR and also
during the preflight checkout of this equipment in the flight Soyuz
at Baikonur, the Soviet launch site. In addition to these agreements,
improvement was noted in the preparation
 of plans and documents, particularly in the
Communications Working Group. All documentation is essentially now on
Low advised Teague that these agreements would
"materially contribute to a successful mission and . . . [were] a
good indication of the Soviets' commitment to making this mission a
success." Turning to the Mid-Tem Review, the Deputy Administrator
reported that "The Project Technical Directors . . . and the Working
Group Chairman made detailed presentations" to Academician Petrov and
me "and responded to all questions." As a consequence of this
exercise they had "concluded that the progress made and the quality
of the joint work to date [gave them] high confidence that the
scheduled launch date [would] be met."45
Privately Low was equally confident of
success, particularly considering the international scene at the
time. On 6 October, the fourth major war between the Arab states and
Israel had erupted when troops from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and several
other countries attacked. The Yom Kippur War had raged throughout the
stay of the Americans in Moscow, with the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.
airlifting arms to the opposing sides. And on 17 October, the
Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries had announced a
coordinated program of oil production and export cuts to those
nations that supported Israel.46 Jim Jaax of Working Group 5 recalled that he and his
colleagues only learned about the war when one of the interpreters
read of the conflict in a Soviet newspaper during a bus ride from the
Rossiya Hotel to the Institute of Space Research. In their isolation,
they had had no other indications that a war was being fought in the
Potentially as disruptive to the
Soviet-American space efforts had been the U.S. National Academy of
Sciences' protests to the Soviet Academy concerning the "heightened
campaign of condemnation" being waged against dissenting Academician
Andrei Dmitriyevich Sakharov. The President of the American Academy
had cabled Keldysh in September 1973 regarding the matter and had
subsequently published the text of his message in Science on 21
September.48 Low, commenting on these problems, said, "Although we
were in Moscow during an international crisis and during the exchange
of letters between the U.S. and Soviet Academies on the Sakharov
affair, neither of these subjects came up at any time during our
visit."49 Low noted that one New
York Times article concluded: "the
warm treatment of Mr. Low and a team of American specialists, working
with their Soviet counterparts to prepare for the Apollo-Soyuz
mission, was read as a deliberate gesture by Moscow to emphasize its
interest in Soviet-American cooperation and detente despite the
frictions of the Middle East conflict."50
At the end of 1973, a successful flight in
July 1975 seemed probable. The Soviet and American teams had made
considerable technical progress  and, despite the
tight schedules and heavy work loads, were confident. ASTP appeared
to be politically possible as well, since major international crises
had not intruded into the world of the Working Groups. The year 1973
had also seen the two crews begin to work out the details of joint
training. The day of rendezvous was approaching.
* Detailed descriptions
of ASTP experiments are presented in appendix E.
44. Letter, Low to
Teague, 31 Oct. 1973.
46. "War Erupts in
Middle East," Facts on
File 33 (7-13 Oct. 1973): 833-838; and
"Mideast War Mounts in Intensity," Facts on File 33 (14-20
Oct. 1973): 857-862.
47. James R. Jaax,
comments on ASTP history draft, 19 Jan. 1976.
48. "Council of U.S.
Academy of Sciences Expresses Concern to Soviet Counterparts over
Sakharov Harrassment," Science, 21 Sept. 1973,
pp. 1148-1149; "Soviet Academy Replies to NAS Defense of Sakharov,"
2 Nov. 1973, p. 1459; "Soviet Rebuts Americans on Sakharov,"
New York Times, 18 Oct. 1973; and "Soviet Letter on Sakharov,"
New York Times, 18 Oct. 1973. See also Smith, The Russians, pp.
439-445; and Kaiser, Russia: the People
and the Power, pp. 419-428.
49. Low, "Visit to
Moscow, October 14-19, 1973," Dec. 1973.
50. Hedrick Smith, "U.S.
Space Team at Soviet Center," New York
Times, 19 Oct. 1973.