Moscow Confirms It's Stepping Up To The Teller Window
Russian President Vladimir Putin has reaffirmed
the need to maintain the International Space Station in functioning
condition. "Now that shuttle flights have been suspended, it is
important to preserve the ISS in operational condition," Putin said
during a radio- link session with the ISS crew.
The current crew is spending extra time in orbit. "You had to
ensure non-stop manned operation of the station in the sad weeks
following the Columbia tragedy. You've coped with the task
brilliantly," he told the crewmembers.
Expression Of Grief
Russians sincerely regret "the death of your colleagues and
comrades, this tragedy was felt by everyone on Earth," he said. The
Russian government is re-channeling financing to build additional
ships to be launched into orbit, he said. "Should it become
necessary, consideration will be given to widening Russia's
involvement in ISS efforts," he said.
Putin also extended his best wishes to Russian cosmonaut Nikolai
Budarin and US astronauts Ken Bowersox and Donald Petitt on Space
Day. "Work in orbit will never become routine. People who do this
work must not only be real professionals but also brave and strong
people like you," he said.
And By The Way, You're A Grandpa
Putin also congratulated Budarin on the birth of his
granddaughter, wishing Budarin and Petitt joyful birthday
celebrations at the station. Bowersox thanked Putin for wishing
them well and reiterated the need for Russian-US partnership.