Delays to the International Space Station (ISS) programme have provided an unexpected benefit because of the increased amount of ground testing that is now being performed at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), says NASA.

The first ISS launch has been postponed to November and the Station will not be completed until 2004, NASA said at the end of May.

That has given KSC engineers the opportunity to work with NASA astronauts on critical tests and simulations that would otherwise have had to be performed in space. The ground-based tests are much less expensive and straightforward, says NASA.

KSC space station personnel are also gaining important knowledge of the system's operational and deployment requirements which they can share with the ISS international partners.

NASA, meanwhile, has established an Office of Human Space Flight Programs in Moscow to oversee the transition from the Shuttle Mir Mission programme to the ISS. The office is headed by astronaut Michael Baker.

Source: Flight International