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  Thomas Stafford awarded 'Order of Friendship'

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Author Topic:   Thomas Stafford awarded 'Order of Friendship'
Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-10-2018 04:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stafford Air & Space Museum release
Putin Bestows Honor On Weatherford Oklahoma Native

On April 9, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his nation had awarded the "Order of Friendship" medal to former U.S. test pilot and astronaut, Lt. General Thomas P. Stafford (USAF, ret.), a native of Weatherford, Oklahoma. The medal was bestowed for Stafford's "great contribution to developing cooperation in the field of space exploration between the Russian Federation and the United States of America."

Stafford is a veteran of four space flights between 1965 and 1975, spending a total of more than 21 days in space. As the pilot of Gemini 6, Stafford conducted the first successful rendezvous in space with another orbiting vehicle that is considered one of the great milestones in space exploration. Just six months later, he would command the Gemini 9 mission and in May of 1969, he would command the Apollo 10 flight to the moon, on the last full-scale dress rehearsal for a lunar landing.

It was on Stafford's final mission that brought him close to the Soviet space program, and earned him lasting respect within the Soviet, and today, the Russian scientific, space exploration, and governmental communities. In July, 1975, Stafford commanded the American side of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) that would rendezvous and dock with a Soviet Soyuz-19 spacecraft that culminated in the historic "handshake in space" between U.S. and Soviet astronauts. Many historians today feel that this joint mission led to the beginning of the end of the Cold War. For his efforts, General Stafford was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

As long-time NASA flight director and administrator, Chris Kraft stated about Stafford: "What made Tom so effective during the ASTP program is that the Soviets trusted him, and so did the Americans." That mutual trust remains to this day.

At the age of 87, Stafford still remains active in his work in international aerospace policy and consulting. He still chairs NASA's oversight committee on safety and operational readiness for the International Space Station (ISS), and often travels to Moscow to work with his Russian counterparts that together oversee the operation of the ISS. Over the past 17 years, the ISS has been continually crewed by U.S. astronauts and Russian cosmonauts working together, with assistance from 16 other nations. This unprecedented long-term cooperation between the two former Cold War adversaries would never have been possible without the success of Stafford's Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975. This mission proved the two nations could bring down what were once insurmountable cultural and political barriers to work together on a common goal.

Stafford has been previously honored for his long-time work as an envoy of cooperation and oversight between the space programs of both nations. In 2011, General Stafford was awarded the medal "For contribution to space exploration by foreign citizens" by order of then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Stafford still remains close to Aleksei Leonov, his Soviet counterpart from the ASTP mission, who both describe each other as the brother they never had. In early 2000, Leonov assisted Stafford and his wife Linda in adopting two Russian boys Mikhail and Stanislav. One of Stafford's grandsons even carries the middle name of Alexey in honor of his old friend, Leonov.

General Stafford is still active in the development and expansion of the Stafford Air & Space Museum in his hometown of Weatherford. He also continues consulting with a variety of U.S. aerospace corporations and serves on several board of directors for international corporations.

dom
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posted 04-10-2018 04:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I find his acceptance of this old school propaganda award troubling. Stafford should refuse it on principle.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-10-2018 05:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stafford has spent decades working to advance the cooperation between NASA and Roscosmos. His turning down the honor would run counter to those efforts.

dom
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posted 04-10-2018 06:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
But this is not a space related award from Roscosmos, it is a political award from Putin. Bizarrely that leader’s nostalgia for the Soviet times makes him want to draw attention to ASTP (when the two nations were "equals" alone in orbit) rather than acknowledge the truly global ISS.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-10-2018 07:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Though Stafford commanded the U.S. half of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, he arguably has made a greater contribution "to developing cooperation in the field of space exploration between the Russian Federation and the United States of America" in support of the International Space Station program, for which he was bestowed this latest honor.

MCroft04
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From: Smithfield, Me, USA
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posted 04-10-2018 08:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If General Stafford accepted the award, that is good enough for me.

Larry McGlynn
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posted 04-10-2018 08:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
General Stafford is also co-chairman of the ISS committee that helps resolves issues between the agencies in Russia and the United States. He is still very much active in assisting in the successful operation of the ISS. It is with that in mind that he was awarded the Order of Friendship.

Luckily, space still allows us to cooperate together even as earthly frictions cause tension between our countries.

Lasv3
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From: Bratislava, Slovakia
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posted 04-11-2018 12:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If political hotheads would act as reasonably as General Stafford did when accepting this well deserved honour the world would be much better.

Headshot
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posted 04-11-2018 07:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My heartiest congratulations to General Stafford. Every so often there comes along a person who sees a bigger picture than the rest of us. May his friendship and accomplishments with A. Leonov be an inspiration to us all.

dom
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posted 04-11-2018 01:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
By accepting this award, General Stafford is only playing into Putin's cynical agenda. Remember he is no friend of America or its veteran astronauts!

(Some friendly advice from a real friend.)

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-11-2018 01:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How do you know that Putin does not earnestly respect Stafford?

Putin has little to gain from honoring Stafford; it is not like this award is going to attract the attention of the American public at large, or even sway the opinions of those who know about it. This is an honor for Stafford and dismissing it as a political move only serves to disrespect its recipient.

328KF
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posted 04-11-2018 01:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Charlie Bolden was presented with the same honor by Putin.

dom
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posted 04-11-2018 02:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stafford (or Bolden) don’t need awards from Putin to gain my respect. I just find the whole episode distasteful as association with this guy will only tarnish reputations in the long run...

uk spacefan
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posted 04-14-2018 04:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for uk spacefan   Click Here to Email uk spacefan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While I wholeheartedly agree that Stafford deserves this award, in view of today's military action (taken against Syria), it will be interesting to see if he will accept it.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-14-2018 07:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Earlier this week on Cosmonautics Day, Putin said that he believes space exploration transcends politics.
Thank God, this field of activity isn't touched by problems in the political sphere. This is in the interests of everyone, of the whole of humanity. It's a sphere of activity that can unite us.

oly
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From: Perth, Western Australia
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posted 04-14-2018 08:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think that the amount of work Stafford has put into working with Russia and the former USSR regarding space, Russia acknowledging his contributions seems apt.

ASTP occurred during a time when the participants made conscientious efforts to overcome the political boundaries and use spaceflight to promote fellowship. It would be a shame if this were overlooked today by trying to associate the events of today with the events 40 odd years ago.

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