April 9, 1997
Headquarters, Washington, DC
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
NASA will begin its on-orbit assembly of the International Space Station (ISS) no later than October 1998, and is looking at options that will allow the Agency to work around the delay caused by the late arrival of a key station module.
"We knew from the outset that building an International Space Station was going to be tremendously challenging. Space exploration is not easy or predictable," said NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin. "We will work through this schedule issue, and we undoubtedly will face additional problems in the future. But we are well on our way to the realization of this world-class facility," he said.
The on-orbit assembly of the International Space Station originally was scheduled to begin in November 1997 with the launch of the NASA-financed/Russian-built and launched Functional Cargo Block (FGB). Inadequate funding by the Russian government to the Russian Space Agency (RSA) and its contractors for building another key station element -- the Service Module (SM) -- has put construction up to eight months behind schedule.
NASA managers and engineers have been reviewing various options to mitigate the impact to the ISS program of the current schedule slip of the Service Module, and to begin the steps necessary to mitigate the impact of potential additional Russian delays. RSA has been a joint participant in the effort to identify these steps. Options under consideration are:
· Modify the FGB to allow for on-orbit refueling and upgrade of its avionics capability. These changes will give the FGB the capability to augment the early control and reboost capabilities to protect for a Service Module delay.
· Develop an Interim Control Module (ICM) in conjunction with the Naval Research Laboratory to provide reboost capability and attitude control in the event that the SM experiences further delays, or propellant storage/reboost capability if the SM is launched on time.· Consider the installation of life support systems in the U.S. lab to allow early human presence on the ISS.
· Define options involving the ICM to provide the functions of a permanent propulsion module in order to complement Russian logistics capability and to provide roll control to replace or complement the Russian Science Power Platform functions.
NASA will determine the timing for decisions which need to be made in the event that Russia is unable to provide its agreed contributions to the ISS program. These decision points will be selected to allow for the timely provision of an alternative capability.
NASA has begun initial steps at the working level to accommodate changes to the Space Shuttle manifest. NASA has reassigned the Space Shuttle Endeavour to fly the September 1997 STS-86 mission to the Mir space station instead of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. This change will allow Atlantis to begin its scheduled orbiter maintenance down period several months earlier, while permitting Endeavour a mission prior to flying the first ISS assembly flight in July 1998.
Additional adjustments to the remainder of the assembly sequence will be worked in consultation with the other International Partners and research community over the next several weeks.
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