50 years ago, the United States and Soviet Union joined forces for science

Excerpt from the June 3, 1972 issue of Science News

Astronaut Donald Slayton embraces cosmonaut Aleksey Leonov

Astronaut Donald Slayton (left) embraces cosmonaut Aleksey Leonov (right) during the first international human spaceflight in 1975. That mission galvanized decades of scientific collaboration that continues today aboard the International Space Station.


A busy week for science in Moscow — Science News, June 3, 1972

U.S. and Soviet leaders … signed agreements on space, science and technology, health and the environment…. The space agreement … outlines plans for cooperation in fields such as meteorology, study of the natural environment, planetary exploration and space biology.


The 1972 space agreement led to the first inter­national human spaceflight, the Apollo-Soyuz mission, during which Soviet and U.S. crews socialized in space (SN: 7/26/75, p. 52). Apollo-Soyuz encouraged decades of collaboration that continues today on the International Space Station. Now, Russia’s war in Ukraine has prompted many countries to pull back on scientific endeavors with Russia, in space and on Earth (SN: 3/26/22, p. 6). While NASA remains committed to the space station, the head of Russia’s space agency has threatened to end the cooperation in retaliation for sanctions imposed in response to the war. Russia has yet to make moves to abandon the station, though the country has ceased supplying rocket engines to the United States.

Physics writer Emily Conover has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago. She is a two-time winner of the D.C. Science Writers’ Association Newsbrief award.

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