International Space Station lauded, debated at symposium


  • Randy Showstack


Astronauts labored successfully in early December to unfurl solar wings on the International Space Station, which will help make that craft the third-largest object in the night sky as seen from Earth, and help power the station for at least 15 years as a continuous small scientific village in space. While astronauts from the “Endeavor” U.S. space shuttle worked on the solar panels, NASA Administrator Dan Goldin and U.S. House of Representatives Science Committee Chair James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) praised the International Space Station (ISS), but exchanged shots across the bow during a December 4 symposium in Washington, D.C.

Sensenbrenner, a leading congressional watchdog of the project, said that the United States “should be restructuring relations with Russia on the space station” because of that country's recent, and reportedly short-lived threat to violate the international Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The regime restricts the export of some delivery systems capable of carrying weapons of mass destruction. Sensenbrenner said Russia's recent announcement [of its intention] to break a secret deal not to sell conventional weapons to Iran after January 1, 2001 is a cause for reconsidering the space station working relationship.