BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Science/Nature  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Friday, 20 November, 1998, 18:19 GMT
'Flawless' Zarya in orbit
Daniel Goldin and Yuri Koptev: "Epoch-making step"
Space officials from 16 nations announced their satisfaction with the way the first stage of the new International Space Station (ISS) was delivered into orbit.

A Proton rocket, carrying the Zarya module, blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan just after nine in the morning, local time.

ISS in space
Zarya will eventually be used for storage
Twenty minutes later, Central Mission Control in Moscow said the module had been successfully deployed in a near-Earth orbit and the aerials and solar batteries had unfolded correctly.

The launch marks the start of a new era in space co-operation and exploration with each nation contributing parts and expertise. The huge space station will cost many billions of dollars and take several years to complete.

It will be used as a research laboratory in the sky. The micro-gravity conditions experienced on the station should help scientists develop new types of drugs and advanced materials.

Station modules

The Russian-built Zarya will provide the initial power, communications and propulsion for the space station.

world-wide co-operation textbox
Later modules will take over these functions and Zarya will serve mostly as a storage facility, holding fuel and other supplies.

The first crew is not due to arrive until January 2000, and ISS should be fully operation by 2004.

Zarya is currently sitting in a variable orbit - with a minimum distance from the Earth of 185 kilometres - and with an inclination of 51.6 degrees.

The orbit will be lifted over the course of the next five days to allow Zarya to dock with the space shuttle Endeavour.

The shuttle will be delivering the second segment of the international station, the American Node-1 module referred to as Unity. This should take place on 5 December.

'Flawless' launch

At a joint press conference, Russian and US officials said the launch had been "flawless" and that the module had performed well during initial tests. They cautioned that much work remains to be done to get the ambitious space station project up and working.

"Now we only have 44 launches to go, about 1,000 hours of space walks and countless problems, but because of the trust and mutual respect ... the international space station is going to be a reality," said NASA chief Daniel Goldin.

His Russian counterpart, Yuri Koptev, said the launch was a vital vindication for the troubled Russian space industry, proving it could play a major role in space operations.

"Today we made a truly epoch-making step to carry out this project. The Russian space industry is alive and well and is perfectly able to fulfil all of its commitments on the International Space Station," he said.

Boris Yeltsin, the Russian President released a statement from the Kremlin in which he offered his "congratulations on the successful launch of the first module of the International Space Station."

The BBC's Pallab Ghosh reports
"Launch marks a new phase in exploration and discovery"
The BBC's Paul Anderson reports
A new era in space
Daniel Goldin in Moscow
"A bright star" is launched
The BBC's Pallab Ghosh reports
"The first crew will arrive on the ISS in the year 2000"
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Science/Nature stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Science/Nature stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |