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NPR's All Things Considered
Broadcast 11/02/2000, Story 2

The space shuttle endeavour blasted off this afternoon on an eleven day mission to make a radar map of the earth the launch is supposed to be the start of a busy year for the shuttle fleet construction of the international space station is slated to resume after a long delay that that depends on whether russia is able to launch a key component of the space station

Nasa officials are increasingly irritated that russia has fallen far behind schedule n. p. r.'s richard harris has the story

Space station construction has been stalled for more than a year as everyone waits for russia to launch the crucial service matsch will not only is it supposed to house crew during the early years of the space station but it's the central point for navigation guidance and control initially iran far behind schedule because of budget problems and it's been delayed again because the type of rocket that's supposed to loft it into orbit crash during two recent launch attempts

At a meeting today in moscow russian officials announced that they now plan to launch the service module in mid july nasa spokesman plain brown says that was exactly what the space agency needed to hear

This year should market ah a time when international space station really begins to take shape

If indeed the service module is launched

Nasa will be ready to send several shuttles into orbit to provide more supplies and large pieces of hardware such as solar panels brown says the key mission would come in november a court hearing

The uh which will have that session a bill shepherded to russian astronauts will go up they will be launched out of russia and they will actually start the first human presence on space station for possibly three months and as time goes on they will be replaced by us

Several the crew but marcia smith a space expert at the congressional research service says whether that all comes to pass depends on more than the launch of the russian service module

Russia's commitment to the international space program is really quite impressive it's not just building the service module are other mandelit are supposed to calm and very importantly they're supposed to provide the spacecraft and the launch vehicles to take fuel up to the space station and the re boost its devastation you

To be re boosted so it won't fall back

Her but there's some question about whether russia will come through on those commitments in particular nasa officials are upset that russia has turned its attention once again to the aging mir space station which was abandoned last year russia is now planning more trips to mir with some financial backing from the u. s. millionaire who's hoping to make me are an exotic destination for wealthy adventurers

Even the russian research that it's not diverting money from the international space station from here it is clearly draining human resources and probably hardware called sunday have who used to head the space research institute in moscow says there is some political support for this within russia particularly from ultra nationalists

You'll find the local phone guys who was seeing to it that europe is that symbolizes the russian nation will rise up as the first uh oh the country who launched uh chief usual stop the light and uh you can find to a local flow lobbyists uh inside the state duma

The human uh gun i said uh uh um in bicycle of tour of eating beef in places uh in all being corrupt

Looking for help for sunday and says the new russian leader vladimir prudent seems to be content to allow them your business to rekindle that side that says many technical experts in russia recognize that their space program would suffer terribly as nasa get so fed up that it cuts russia out of the international space station

The long running tensions with russia are the most visible problems now confronting the space station but marcia smith says the u. s. is also far behind its own schedules

The program last year the last uh estimate the public was there was about seven billion dollars over budget and then i wouldn't be completed until two thousand four two thousand five which was to be done in two thousand two

The day began to wonder if the picture that nasa has on its web site of the space station looks like it was ever openly going to be what we see up here nasa officials are redrawing that picture though they know that more than seventy percent of the hardware is already at cape canaveral but now even two thousand and five looks like an optimistic completion date

Richard harris n. p. r. news washington

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