The International Space Station (ISS) project remains on schedule, despite the three-months-late shipment of the Russian Service Module (SM) from manufacturer Khrunichev to Energia in November, caused by the late delivery of components from subcontractors.

To make up for the delay, Khrunichev will take over from Energia the installation of several systems. Other components, including an improved Kurs automatic-docking system and equipment for communications via relay satellites, will be installed at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Khrunichev has started production of the SM's Proton launcher, due to be to be shipped to Baikonur in August 1998, for launch on 20 December, 1998.

It has also completed a fit-check on two Space Shuttle trajectory control-system retro reflectors to the Russian Functional Cargo Block (FGB), the first ISS module to be launched, on a Proton ,on 30 June, 1998.

These will be mounted to the FGB during pre-launch preparations. A new, hybrid docking adaptor has been attached to the FGB, to allow it to receive fuel, oxygen and water from Progress automatic cargo ships and to permit dockings with Soyuz crew vehicles.

Final assembly of the FGB will be completed in December. The Russian Space Agency has found several commercial banks willing to provide cash for the ISS under $99 million state guarantees promised by President Boris Yeltsin in August, and has received a first tranche of $1.3 million. Russia's space programme will receive a 19% increase in 1998.

Source: Flight International