R.K.A. stands for Rossiyskoe Kosmicheskoye Agentsvo, so Russian Space Agency. For a long time the Russian parliament discussed about the need to establish such an organisation. Its tasks and possibilities, but also the relation to parliament and government, are almost equal to that of the American NASA. Projects for space-operations have to be submitted to that R.K.A. The R.K.A. investigates the project and evaluates the need, necessity, costs and eventual contribution from state-funds. Projects aimed to achieve political- or chauvinistic prestige will not have any chance. After analysing a project this will be send to the parliament for consent about eventual funding. The president can put his veto on it. After consent the project will be send back to R.K.A. R.K.A. asks for offers of firms, scientific institutes, enterprises, national as well as international ones, on the basis of free enterprise and free market and selects those who will get the order(-s). After that R.K.A. has to keep control on the execution of the orders. It will take some time before such an organisation is operational and in fact it is already a little bit late.
RIDICULOUS AND EXAGGERATED INFORMATION ABOUT BAD HEALTH AND MOOD OF Mir CREW:
For a long time, more or less caused by 'glasnost' and the bad economic situation in the CIS-states, the (ex-) Soviet press critically and even with denigration reported about their national space exploration. For a few weeks that same press gradually seem to be inclined to change this policy a little bit due to a moderate positive attitude towards 'space' of Yeltsin. A lot of Russian journalists still entertain grievances about the fact, that not a Russian, but a Japanese journalist flew in a Russian space-station. Average reports about space-station Mir are still below zero and a lot these reports find their way to the West. Regretfully the spokesmen and public relations officers of space-organisations in the CIS are still very passive and miss the skill and willingness of their western colleagues to fight for their cause. Negative reports, for instance articles in Komsomolskaye Pravda, Izvestiya and others, are extra exaggerated while proceeding along western press-channels. The cosmonauts hear a lot from western news-agencies and from radio-amateurs around the world and sometimes do not believe their ears. On Febr. 17th Moscow-TV relayed a direct TV-session with Mir and the viewers could see how healthy and active the cosmonauts were. I myself know by day to day observations that the crew has a very good health and a high morale. Of course they meet problems, technical failures, even serious ones, but they always keep good hearth and in co-operation with experts on TsUP they resolve problems by repairing or replacing equipment or systems. Radio-amateurs, who have the possibility to communicate with the crew or to exchange information via Packet Radio, certainly will share my opinion. I will advise you all: take all press-reports about Mir, not with a pinch, but with some pounds of salt.
C.M. van den Berg, NL-9165/A-UK3202.
The sampling kit was then stowed away. Leo's next NUTRITION/Repository activity will be his Flight Day 30 (FD30) session. (The current NUTRITION project is the most comprehensive in-flight study done by NASA to date of human physiologic changes during long-duration space flight. It includes measures of bone metabolism, oxidative damage, nutritional assessments, and hormonal changes, expanding the previous Clinical Nutritional Assessment profile (MR016L) testing in three ways: Addition of in-flight blood & urine collection (made possible by MELFI), normative markers of nutritional assessment, and a return session plus 30-day (R+30) session to allow evaluation of post-flight nutrition and implications for rehabilitation.) Additional Details: ISS On-Orbit Status 02/27/08.