This letter is Khrushchev's reply to Kennedy's proposals for joint space missions. He agrees with Kennedy's proposals and expands upon them. He also says that all nations must be involved in the exploration of space, since the exploration of space could be beneficial to all of mankind.

The Soviet Government considers and has always considered the successes of our country in the field of space exploration as achievements not only of the Soviet people but of all mankind. The Soviet Union is taking practical steps to the end that the fruits of the labor of Soviet scientists shall become the property of all countries. We widely publish notification of all launchings of satellites, spaceships and space rockets, reporting all data pertaining to the orbit of flight, weight of space devices launched, radio frequencies, etc.

Soviet scientists have established fruitful professional contacts with their foreign colleagues, including scientists of your country, in such international organizations as the Committee for Outer Space Research and the International Astronautical Federation.

It seems to me, Mr. President, that the necessity is now generally recognized for further practical steps in the noble cause of developing international cooperation in space research for peaceful purposes. Your message shows that the direction of your thoughts does not differ in essence from what we conceive to be practical measures in the field of such cooperation. What, then, should be our starting point?

In this connection I should like to name several problems of research and peaceful use of space, for whose solution it would in our opinion be important to unite the efforts of nations. Some of them, which are encompassed by the recent U.N. General Assembly resolution adopted at the initiative of our two countries, are also mentioned in your message.

  1. Scientists consider that the use of artificial earth satellites for the creation of international systems of long-distance communication is entirely realistic at the present stage of space research. Realization of such projects can lead to a significant improvement in the means of communication and television all over the globe. People would be provided with a reliable means of communication and hitherto unknown opportunities for broadening contacts between nations would be opened. So let us begin by specifying the definite opportunities for cooperation in solving this problem. As I understood from your message, the U.S.A. is also prepared to do this.
  2. It is difficult to overestimate the advantage that people would derive from the organization of a world-wide weather observation service using artificial earth satellites. Precise and timely weather prediction would be still another important step on the path to man's subjugation of the forces of nature; it would permit him to combat more successfully the calamities of the elements and would give new prospects for advancing the well-being of mankind. Let us also cooperate in this field.
  3. It seems to us that it would be expedient to agree upon organizing the observation of objects launched in the direction of the moon, Mars, Venus, and other planets of the solar system, by radio-technical and optical means, through a joint program.
           As our scientists see it, undoubted advantage would be gained by uniting the efforts of nations for the purpose of hastening scientific progress in the study of the physics of interplanetary space and heavenly bodies.
  4. At the present stage of man's penetration into space, it would be most desirable to draw up and conclude an international agreement providing for aid in searching for and rescuing space ships, satellites, and capsules that have accidentally fallen. Such an agreement appears all the more necessary, since it might involve saving the lives of cosmonauts, those courageous explorers of the far reaches of the universe.
  5. Your message contains proposals for cooperation between our countries in compiling charts of the earth's magnetic field in outer space by means of satellites, and also for exchanging knowledge in the field of space medicine. I can say that Soviet scientists are prepared to cooperate in this and to exchange data regarding such questions with scientists of other countries.
  6. I think, Mr. President, that the time has also come for our two countries, which have advanced further than others in space research, to try to find a common approach to the solution of the important legal problems with which life itself has confronted the nations in the space age. In this connection I find it a positive fact that at the UN General Assembly's 16th session the Soviet Union and the United States were able to agree upon a proposal on the first principles of space law which was then unanimously approved by the members of the UN: a proposal on the applicability of international law, including the UN Charter, in outer space and on heavenly bodies; on the accessibility of outer space and heavenly bodies for research and use by all nations in accordance with international law; and on the fact that space is not subject to appropriation by nations.

Now, in our opinion, it is necessary to go further.

Expansion of space research being carried out by nations definitely makes it necessary to agree also that in conducting experiments in outer space no one should create obstacles for space study and research for peaceful purposes by other nations. Perhaps it should be stipulated that those experiments in space that might complicate space research by other countries should be the subject of preliminary discussion and agreement on an appropriate international basis.

I have named, Mr. President, only some of the questions whose solution has, in our view, now become urgent and requires cooperation between our countries. In the future, international cooperation in the conquest of space will undoubtedly extend to ever newer fields of space exploration if we can now lay a firm foundation for it. We hope that scientists of the USSR and the U.S.A. will be able to engage in working out and realizing the many projects for the conquest of outer space hand in hand, and together with scientists of other countries.

Representatives of the USSR on the UN Space Committee will be given instructions to meet with representatives of the United States in order to discuss concrete questions of cooperation in research and peaceful use of outer space that are of interest to our countries.

Thus, Mr. President, do we conceive of--shall we say--heavenly matters. We sincerely desire that the establishment of cooperation in the field of peaceful use of outer space facilitate the improvement of relations between our countries, the easing of international tension and the creation of a favorable situation for the peaceful settlement of urgent problems here on our own earth.

Letter from Chairman Nikita Khrushchev to President John F Kennedy. 20 Mar. 1962. Source: "Kennedy-Khrushchev Exchanges." Online archives of the US Department of State.