NASA IS TO build its own Interim Control Module in an attempt to reduce the effect of the delay in the production of the Russian Service Module for the International Space Station (ISS) (Flight International, 18-31 December, 1996).

The Service Module, the third major component of the ISS, was scheduled to be launched in April 1998, but has been delayed until at least December 1998 by Russian budget funding difficulties.

The $100 million Interim Control Module, based on a unit designed originally to fly classified US Department of Defense missions, would be launched in about April 1998 to allow the first three-crew expedition to man the ISS in about May 1998, after the launch of Russia's Functional Energy Block on schedule in November and the US Node 1 in December.

The Space Shuttle Atlantis/ STS81 docked with the Russian Mir 1 space station on 15 January. It is due to return on 22 January with astronaut John Blaha, who joined the Mir crew in September 1996, and who was replaced by Jerry Linenger from the STS81.

Source: Flight International