The Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture United Space Alliance, which operates the Space Shuttle fleet for NASA, is to pay "several million dollars" in penalties for delays to the flight schedule caused by wiring defects in the orbiters (Flight International, 29 September-5 October).

The cost of the repairs to the Endeavour and Discovery orbiters will also be absorbed by the company. Each delay will cost $3 million, says Mike McCulley, vice-president and deputy programme manager. "United Space was aware of the financial impact when we made the decision to undertake a more thorough review of the Shuttles and thus delay the schedule. We believe that we made the right decisions," he says.

The STS103 Discovery mission, to conduct the third servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope, will take precedence, but will fly no earlier than 19 November.

Inspection and repairs to the Discovery's wiring are progressing well, but Endeavour work continues, pushing its Shuttle Radar Topography Mission into December at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the Columbia has been flown to Boeing's Palmdale plant for its second maintenance down period, during which it will be refurbished and fitted with the multifunctional electronic display "glass cockpit". The orbiter will receive an enhanced global positioning system and an improved space-to-space orbiter radio and wireless video.

The Columbia will continue to be configured to fly non-International Space Station missions, without the Orbiter docking system (ODS). It will, however, be equipped to allow the ODS to be fitted if an ISS flight is necessary.

Source: Flight International