The controversial, much delayed, Russian International Space Station (ISS) Service Module will be rolled out by Energia in Moscow on 26 April.

Delays to its production have contributed to a two-year hold-up in the ISS programme. Russia says the Service Module will meet its September launch deadline, subject to funding, with another Rb400 million ($15.26 million) required from the government. But NASA indicates that the launch is unlikely before November.

The delay could mean that there is just one Space Shuttle mission to the ISS this year. The STS96 Discovery is due to be launched on 20 May, to link up with the Russian Zarya and US Unity modules, which have been docked together since December last year. The seven-person crew will deliver logistics to the ISS and perform spacewalks to attach cranes and other equipment to the exterior of the linked modules.

The next ISS Shuttle mission, the STS101 Atlantis, featuring the first use of a "glass cockpit", is planned for December, but could be pushed into next year.

Source: Flight International