A replacement Control Moment Gyroscope (CMG) which was due to be delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) early next year has failed during a spin test.

The replacement CMG is required because one of the four CMGs is out of action due to one of its two bearing assemblies being broken (Flight International, 18-24 June). The replacement CMG failed during the test, possibly also due to a bearing problem. The CMGs provide attitude control for the ISS. Without the gyros engineers would have to rely on thrusters on the Russian segment of the station to maintain proper attitude control.

The latest ISS problem comes as NASA estimates that the station will cost US taxpayers $1 billion a year to operate. The ISS is unlikely to be fully operational until 2006, 12 years later than planned in 1984 when then US president Ronald Reagan gave the project the go-ahead. The station will be de-orbited in 2017. By then the ISS will have cost over $70 billion.

The Russian space agency Rosaviakosmos has told NASA that the Soyuz TM flight to the ISS next month will not include 'N Sync band member Lance Bass, as television producers have failed to come up with the necessary $20 million.

Source: Flight International