Tim Furniss/LONDON

Users of the US share of International Space Station resources will be charged a standard price of $20.8 million a year, according to a preliminary price structure released by NASA.

The charge is quoted for use of each of two typical "bundles" of equipment, excluding transportation costs, with smaller bundles priced on a pro-rata basis.

A typical internal rack site bundle would include one 3kW site and 86h of crew time, with provision for the transmission of two terabits of data to the ground. An external adaptor site bundle would include a site maintained for 32h with 2.6 terabits of data transmission.

Eight internal rack site bundles and seven external adaptor site bundles would be available.

Other quoted costs include $4,540/kg ($10,000/lb) for each-way transportation for passive pressurised cargo and $12,000 for unpressurised cargo, $15,000 per crew-tended hour and $100 per minute for use of the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite system. Other negotiable charges include stowage and crew training time.

Meanwhile, NASA has confirmed that two Space Shuttle Atlantis missions - STS101 and 106 - will be flown before and after the launch of the Russian Zvezda service module in July.

STS101, to be launched on 13 April, will prepare the Zarya and US Unity modules to receive Zvezda and complete urgent repairs and servicing to the docked units.

STS106 will be launched on 19 August to prepare the ISS for its first Expedition crew and to receive further Shuttle assembly missions. NASA's latest ISS mission schedule shows that if Zvezda fails, STS106 will carry the Interim Control Module (ICM). NASA has requested an extra $35 million to equip the ICM with a Russian-built docking module and other hardware. Zvezda was to have been launched in April 1998, according to the initial agreement for Russian involvement in the ISS.

The STS92 mission to erect the first space station truss has been delayed again to 21 September, to be followed by STS97, with the first solar array on 20 November. Missions pushed into 2001 are STS98, which will carry the US Laboratory Module, Destiny, and the STS102 and 100 missions to carry Italian Multipurpose Logistic Modules.

Meanwhile, NASA says it will scrutinise the work of Boeing - the space agency's ISS prime contractor - which has accumulated almost $1 million in cost overruns on the project. Boeing will receive only $75.4 million of the $203 million bonuses set aside for good contract management.

Source: Flight International