NASA is holding preliminary discussions with Japan and Germany about a joint venture to rescue the International Space Station Crew Emergency Return Vehicle (CRV) which has been cancelled due to budget cuts.

The European Space Agency has also provided $80 million funding to the X-38 technology demonstrator and will expect to be involved in any new programme.

Without the CRV, the ISS would not be able to support a seven-strong crew without the attendance of a Space Shuttle orbiter. Budget difficulties are likely to lead to a reduction of the permanent crew to three. Both the US habitation module and a propulsion module are also facing the axe.

NASA has already asked Italy to develop a smaller habitation module in order to save this component and allow the crew to increase to four.

Source: Flight International