The members of the International Space Station (ISS) Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB), including representatives from ESA, reached a final decision on Tuesday on the flight of Dennis Tito to the Space Station. The ISS partners granted an exemption for the US businessman's flight to the Space Station aboard the Soyuz 2 Taxi mission, which is scheduled for launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on 28 April.
Following intense and extensive consultations among the five ISS Space Station partners, the MCB achieved consensus on the proposed Tito flight.
The ISS partners reaffirmed that safety is the paramount consideration in the Space Station programme. Further, the mechanisms that implement the ISS international agreements have been tested and worked well to resolve a difficult issue facing the ISS partnership.
The Joint Decision Statement by all ISS partners, which outlines the background, process and conditions for granting an exemption for the 28 April Soyuz flight of a non-professional to the ISS, is attached.
As part of the Board's deliberations, there was agreement that no ISS partner would propose another flight of a non-professional crewmember until the detailed crew criteria had been finalised and adopted by the ISS partnership. This agreement among the ISS partners should preclude a similar issue arising in the future.
The five partners in the International Space Station are the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada and 10 European countries represented by the European Space Agency (ESA).
Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB) Meeting of April 24, 2001
Decision Paper on Russian Aviation and Space Agency (Rosaviakosmos) request for MCB approval of exemption to fly Mr. Dennis Tito aboard the April 2001 Soyuz 2 taxi flight to the International Space Station (ISS)
Background: Since January 2001, a series of meetings have occurred with Rosaviakosmos and the other ISS partners (European Space Agency, Canadian Space Agency, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology/National Space Development Agency of Japan, Rosaviakosmos, NASA), regarding the flight of a nonprofessional cosmonaut to the ISS during the April 2001, Soyuz 2 taxi flight. The ISS partners from Europe, Canada, Japan, and the U.S. identified concerns with the Rosaviakosmos proposal on three specific areas that could impact the safety of the crew and the ISS:
- the proposed nonprofessional crewmember had not completed the training required under the draft ISS Multilateral Crew Operations Panel (MCOP) guidelines;
- the intensity of on orbit operations during the period of the proposed flight made it an inappropriate time for a nonprofessional cosmonaut to be onboard the ISS; and,
- the appropriate legal and administrative steps had not been adequately addressed.
The ISS partnership decision mechanisms provided for in the ISS Intergovernmental Agreement, related Memoranda of Understanding (MOU), and implementing arrangements, have been followed in an effort to resolve this matter. On April 20, 2001, Rosaviakosmos requested that the MCB approve an exemption to fly Mr. Dennis Tito aboard the April 2001 Soyuz 2 taxi flight to the ISS. In accordance with ISS agreements and processes, the MCB Chairman referred the Rosaviakosmos request to the ISS MCOP for consideration and a recommendation.
The MCB members met on April 23 and 24, 2001, discussed the Rosaviakosmos request for an exemption and reviewed the MCOP recommendations. After thorough discussion among all MCB members and the positive resolution of the MCOP recommendations, the MCB has unanimously decided to grant the exemption given the following:
- The ISS MCOP will finalize crew criteria for the selection, training, assignment, and certification of all categories of crew, including all passengers such as non-professional civilian crew and submission to the MCB for approval no later than June 2001.
- Although Mr. Tito has been trained and certified for flight on Russian provided elements, Mr. Tito has not been trained on other integrated ISS elements. To address this lack of training, Rosaviakosmos and Mr. Tito have agreed to a number of specific steps to mitigate risks as addressed in flight rules, ISS crew code of conduct, liability and indemnification, increased on-board safety training, and limited access to non-Russian elements. It is understood that Mr. Tito will contribute to the formation of positive public opinion about the ISS program and the ISS partnership.
MCB Meeting of April 24, 2001 - Decision Paper page 2
NASA has also identified risk-mitigating actions that have been endorsed by the Stafford Task Force including modification of the Expedition 2 crew's timeline during the Soyuz 2 crew's visit to include only those activities required for: health and safety of the crew and vehicle; nominal maintenance and operational activities to ensure the continued effective operation of the ISS; and minimal ongoing ISS payload support.
The MCB's view is that these measures will reduce some of the added risk of Mr. Tito's flight in case a contingency occurs on the U.S. element.
In summary, the ISS partnership grants the exemption to fly Mr. Tito aboard the April Soyuz 2 taxi flight given:
- clarification and adoption of the MCOP crew certification process;
- mitigation of safety concerns related to shortfalls in Mr. Tito's training by actions which limited Mr. Tito's activities; and,
- completion of necessary legal and administrative steps to ensure adequate measures are in place for the entire ISS partnership.
This MCB decision reflects an ISS partnership consensus agreement on granting the exemption for Mr. Tito to fly to the ISS aboard the April Soyuz taxi flight while maintaining the overall objective of promoting the safety of the crew and the ISS.
W. Michael Hawes
ISS MCB Chairman
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Savinder Sachdev Jörg Feustel-Büechl
Acting Director General, Space Systems Director, Manned Flight Programme
Canadian Space Agency European Space Agency
Mikhail Sinelschikov Tsutomu Imamura
Piloted Space Program Directorate Director-General,
Russian Aviation and Space Agency Research & Development Bureau Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports