NASA HAS DRAWN UP contingency plans to cope with the growing likelihood of Russia being unable to meet its commitments on the International Space Station (ISS) programme because of cash shortages.

NASA is keen to avoid costly delays if its Russian partners fail to deliver on time, and is looking at the possibility of going ahead with the project without Russia. NASA's immediate concern is that the Russian service module, which is to be launched in April 1998 to allow the first manned expedition to the ISS, is already up to six months late.

The Russian Government has still to hand over $180 million to Khrunichev, which is building the module. NASA has drawn up designs for a US service module and planned contingency-flight schedules. If the service module falls nine months behind, NASA will consider severing its Russian relationship. Construction of the ISS begins in November 1997 with the launch of the Russian Functional Energy Block module.

Source: Flight International