Space: February 6, 2000


NASA has declared that if the Russians fail to launch a Service Module to provide power for the station, the US will launch a Service Module of its own. The Russians are more than a year behind schedule, and problems with the Proton booster promise to delay the needed Service Module even more. (The station cannot be permanently manned without it.) Congress has long complained that the Russians were not being serious about the Service Module, having delayed it while demanding that the US send more money to bail out their bankrupt space program. NASA, which previously defended the Russian program, has now become a strong critic, and has complained that the Russians diverted equipment bought for the Service Module into efforts to keep the ancient space station Mir functional. NASA now says that if the Russians do not launch their Service Module by July, the US will hurry up the final work on its own Service Module and launch it by December. Even if the Russians do launch their module, the US still plans to launch its own, saying that with two Service Modules the station will be "more robust".--Stephen V Cole


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