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National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

NASA's Presence in Russia

NASA has a large presence in the Moscow area, with offices at the U.S. Embassy, Star City, the Moscow Mission Control Center, and the Russian Federal Space Agency.

The NASA Moscow Liaison Office (NMLO) at the U.S. Embassy represents all of NASA's programs and offices in Russia. Contact and additional information can be found at:


NASA and Russia have a long history of extensive and diverse cooperation, starting with space biology and medicine, geodesy and geodynamics in the 1960s. In 1972, the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Agreement Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Concerning Cooperation in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes ("Civil Space Agreement"), which expanded this cooperation into other areas, including space science, Earth science, satellite-based search and rescue, and, later, human space flight. The first docking in space between spacecraft from two different countries took place in 1975 when the crews of the U.S. Apollo spacecraft and the Soviet Union's Soyuz spacecraft opened the hatches between their vehicles for the historic "handshake in space" during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission.

In the 1990s NASA and Russia expanded cooperation into the field of aeronautics, including collaboration with the Tupolev Design Bureau on the Tu-144 Flying Research Laboratory, and with the Central Institute of Aviation Motors (CIAM) on scramjet experiments as well as a number of other projects.

The 1990s also saw NASA and Russia re-engage in the area of human space flight with the successful Shuttle-Mir Program during which seven NASA astronauts completed long-duration missions on the Mir Space Station. The Shuttle-Mir Program, which served as the first phase of the International Space Station (ISS), taught NASA and Russia how to work across international boundaries on complex human space flight operations, improved NASA's understanding of long-term space habitation, and led to more efficient assembly techniques for the ISS. The Shuttle-Mir Program proved an invaluable precursor to the ISS Program. By reducing risk through experience, it paved the way for ISS, much as the U.S. Mercury and Gemini programs helped prepare for the Apollo missions to the moon. As the new century dawned, cooperation between NASA and its Russian counterparts on Earth science, space science, life sciences, and human spaceflight continued and prospects for future cooperation remain optimistic. Current projects now focus on the study of Siberian boreal forests, the use of Russian instruments on NASA robotic probes to the Moon and Mars, research on Russian Foton bioscience spacecraft, and, of course, the continued success of the ISS. As NASA prepares to return to the Moon and eventually land humans on Mars, a promising future lies ahead for American/Russian collaboration and cooperation.

NASA's Russian Partners

Most of NASA's cooperation with Russia is conducted through Russia's Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). Roscosmos was established in 1992 as the Russian Space Agency (RSA). In 1999, RSA's mandate was expanded to include the aviation industry, at which time its name was changed to Rosaviakosmos. In 2004, responsibility for the aviation industry was moved to the Federal Agency for Industry. Once again, space became the sole focus of the newly re-named Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). The Head of Roscosmos is Anotolii Perminov. For human space flight activities NASA also cooperates with the following organizations: Rocket Space Corporation-Energia, Khrunichev State Space Science Production Center, Central Scientific Research Institute of Machine-Building (TsNIIMash), Moscow Mission Control Center (TsUP), Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (TsPK), and the Institute of Bio-Medical Problems (IMBP). In Earth science and space science, NASA also cooperates with the Russian Academy of Sciences and many of its institutes.

Current Space Operations Cooperation

Cooperation on human space operations began with the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in the 1970s. Although U.S. and Soviet human space flight programs went their separate ways from the late 1970s, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s cooperation between Russia and the United States flourished through the Shuttle-Mir Program.

International Space Station: The ISS is a U.S.-led multinational effort with participation by Russia, Japan, Canada, and 11 member states of the European Space Agency (ESA). Permanent human presence began on November 1, 2000 with a crew of three. Russia's contributions to the ISS are significant, including the Zvezda Service Module launched July 2000; a Docking Compartment launched September 2001; the regularly-launched Progress resupply spacecraft; and biannually-launched Soyuz spacecraft. A Soyuz spacecraft always remains docked to ISS to serve as the crew return vehicle. In addition to these contributions, Russia built and launched the first element of the ISS, the Zarya FGB Functional Cargo Block, under contract to the Boeing Company.

Current Exploration Cooperation

With the establishment of the U.S. Vision for Space Exploration in 2004, NASA is undertaking a sustained human and robotic program to explore the solar system. Initial efforts will focus on building a human installation on the Moon as a prelude to further human exploration of the solar system. The United States views this as a long-term journey and invites international participation.

Global Exploration Strategy: In initiating the work to achieve the Vision, NASA realized that participation by many nations as well as commercial interests would be needed. Additionally, NASA wanted to better articulate the reasons to return to the Moon, and to understand the reasons that others might have for participation in such a mission. The Global Exploration Strategy, therefore, is the result of a lengthy dialogue among potential stakeholders. The discussion involved more than 1,000 individuals representing 14 of the world's space agencies, as well as non-government organizations and commercial interests. The Russian Federal Space Agency was one of the participants in the early development of the strategy.

Lunar Exploration: The Russian Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector (LEND) is scheduled to fly on NASA's 2008 Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission. Similar to the Russian High Energy Neutron Detector (HEND) on the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, LEND will search for the presence of frozen water on the lunar surface.

Current Earth Science Cooperation

NASA has cooperated with the USSR and Russia for over 30 years in the fields of Earth science, global-change research and environmental monitoring. The overall goal of this cooperation is to advance our understanding of the Earth's systems through the use of space-based sensors, which make quantitative measurements of the state and behavior of the Earth's atmosphere, ocean, land surface, biology, and interior. These activities include:

Siberian Boreal Forest Field Campaigns: This cooperative research effort with the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), V.N. Sukachev Institute of Forest Research, conducts joint field campaigns within the Siberian boreal forest and provides data to international programs, such as the International Geosphere Biosphere Program (IGBP). The objective of the campaigns is to characterize areas of fire and other forest disturbance by performing detailed measurements within sample plots of relief. NASA loaned equipment to RAS for long-term operation at study sites and to establish a weather station approximately 200 km from the city of Krasnoyarsk.

Space Geodesy: NASA is currently cooperating with the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) in efforts at Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) geodetic experiments. This cooperation includes the use of a NASA-loaned MARK-III VLBI system at the Institute of Applied Astronomy (IAA)/RAS geodetic observatory in Svetloe. The experiments focus on improved accuracy in VLBI measurements required for studies of Earth orientation, angular momentum, and crustal dynamics. As part of the joint experiments, data from the Russian observatories in Svetloe, Zelenchukskaya, and Badary that are a part of the international geodetic VLBI networ,will be correlated and archived in the Crustal Dynamics Data Information System (CDDIS) for availability to the international science community.

Aerosol Robotic NETwork (AERONET): NASA has loaned several sun photometers to various Russian institutions in support of the global AERONET program. The sun photometers measure vital aerosol optical properties and water vapor, which contribute to a more detailed understanding of global atmospheric change phenomena with a particular focus on the assessment of air quality.

The Northern Eurasia Earth Science Partnership Initiative (NEESPI): NEESPI is an active and evolving strategic program of internationally-supported, Earth systems science research, which has its focal issues in Northern Europe that are relevant to regional and global scientific and decision-making communities. Collaboration among NASA, NOAA, and the Russian Academy of Sciences provided fuel for the founding of NEESPI. This international program identifies critical science questions and coordinates research on the state and dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems. The program also analyzes data in order to identify the correlation between land-use in Northern Eurasia and its effects on the Earth's climate. With this knowledge, the program can develop predictive capabilities for carbon accounting and practical applications, track water resources, and analyze the impacts of changes in permafrost. The NEESPI study area is loosely defined as the region lying between 15 E Longitude in the west, the Pacific Coast in the east, 40 N Latitude in the south, and the Arctic Ocean coastal zone in the north. Former USSR territories, Fennoscandia, Eastern Europe, Mongolia, and North China are all included in this area.

Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE III)/Meteor 3M mission: The SAGE III/Meteor 3M mission is a recently completed major space cooperative activity with Russia in the area of Earth science. Complementing previous SAGE missions, SAGE III provided long-term, global measurements of key components of the Earth's atmosphere and facilitated important scientific investigations of the state of the ozone layer. The satellite was launched in December 2001 on a Zenit-2 rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Meteor-3M spacecraft experienced an anomaly in its transponder shortly after launch. Despite this, and other anomalies, the mission successfully collected data through its conclusion in early 2006.

Current Space Science Cooperation

NASA and the USSR Academy of Sciences began cooperation on space sciences in the 1960s and the international agreement on this cooperation served as the basis for the Civil Space Agreement of 1972. Major current activities include:

Mars Exploration: NASA has cooperated with Soviet and Russian space scientists on Mars exploration since the 1980s. In the past decade NASA and Roscosmos have collaborated on four Mars missions: 1) NASA 2001 Mars Odyssey; 2) NASA 1998 Mars Climate Orbiter; 3) NASA 1998 Mars Polar Lander; and 4) Russian Mars 96. Although the latter three missions were lost prior to completion, the Russian High Energy Neutron Detector (HEND) on the Mars Odyssey spacecraft has returned data that suggest the presence of substantial quantities of frozen water in the upper surface of Mars. Mars Odyssey remains in orbit around Mars, mapping the chemical composition of the planet's surface. NASA and its Russian counterparts are presently developing a Russian-provided Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) investigation for flight on the NASA 2009 Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. They also continue to explore cooperative possibilities for the future exploration of Mars.

Konus/Wind: Launched on November 1, 1994, NASA's Wind satellite remains in operation at the sunward Sun-Earth equilibrium point (L-1). It includes the Russian Konus experiment, which was the first Russian scientific instrument to fly on an American satellite. The Konus experiment provides omni-directional and continuous coverage of cosmic gamma-ray transients. The instrument monitors cosmic gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), soft gamma repeaters (SGRs), solar flares, and other transients with the moderate energy resolution available from scintillation spectrometers. In conjunction with other instruments, Konus has helped to rapidly determine gamma-ray burst locations allowing prompt further study of this elusive phenomenon.

NMLO Web Site Hot Links


NASA Organization and Missions


Past and Present Cooperative Projects

Russian Partners