The Space Shuttle Endeavour STS88 mission to attach the Unity 1 node to the Russian Zarya control module of the International Space Station has been threatened with being delayed from 3 December to later in the month because of potential computer problems. Zarya is due to be launched on a Proton on 20 November.

The concerns centre on the Portable Computer System (PCS) payload scheduled to go into space on the Unity 1 node, says the influential NASA watchdog, NASA Watch on the Internet.

The PCS theoretically will be able to be plugged into any port anywhere on the Space Station, but a flight software problem is so critical that the computers may have to be removed from the flight if it is to take place on time. The alternative is to delay the flight until the problem is fixed.

It is possible that the problem flight could result in a launch delay to early 1999, as NASA's efforts to resolve the largely unnoticed problems run up to the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Source: Flight International