Weapons for Peace
Europe America Space Flight 500 was not solely about creating person-to-person relationships. One of the mission's purposes was highlighting the adaptation of Cold War military resources, particularly Soviet technology, for peacetime use. Due to the Soviet Union’s collapse there was no longer a need for much of its stockpiled military equipment, and there was a desire by the United States and Russia to apply these resources in the pursuit of commercial utility over mutually assured destruction.
The mission was reliant on Soviet military technology which had been modified or re-purposed for commercial usage. For example:
- Europe America Space Flight 500’s booster rocket was a Soyuz Expendable Launch System, originally a variant of the R-7 Semyorka ICBM. Developed in the 1960s, the Soyuz became the most common rocket used by the Soviet Union and Russia.
- The recovery ship, Marshal Krylov, was constructed as a secret missile-tracking and ranging vessel for the Soviet Navy in the late 1980s. However, during the mission planning she was repurposed as an oceanographic research vessel, and used her radar and subsystems to track spacecraft.
- The Plesetsk Cosmodrome was one of the most secretive and secure ICBM facilities in the Soviet Union, with nuclear missiles aimed at the United States. After 1991 the base was quickly converted to service civilian needs, and Space Flight 500 was the first commercial mission launched from this location.
Although many of Space Flight 500's resources were chosen due to availability, the symbolic image of a former ICBM carrying a goodwill message, launched from a former missile base, and recovered by a re-purposed navy ship emphasized the mission’s message of adapting military technology post-Cold War.