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May 15, 1997

Debra Rahn / Michael Braukus
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1639)

James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
(Phone: 281/483-5111)

Release: 97-98

Space Station Control Board Approves New Assembly Schedule

The International Space Station Control Board has approved a new baseline schedule that keeps the assembly sequence intact and targets the first station launch for June 1998 -- an eight-month delay from the previous schedule.

As announced by NASA in April, the revision in the station's assembly schedule is the direct result of funding delays in the construction of the Service Module, the primary Russian contribution to the early assembly of the station and a component that will supply the early living quarters, life support systems and propulsion. Russian-funded work on the Service Module now has fully resumed as a result of Russian government funding, and it is rapidly progressing.

"The recent completion of a major Russian general designers review for the Service Module, in which I participated, and full Russian funding of the work, gives us high confidence that the Service Module can meet a revised launch date of December 1998," Program Manager Randy Brinkley said. "The Russian Space Agency has been extremely forthcoming in its dealings with NASA on this subject, and they and their contractors have gone out of their way to demonstrate their resolve to meet their commitment. Based on what I saw and heard during my most recent visit to Russia, I have every confidence that RSA and the Russian space industry are fully committed to meeting their obligations for the Service Module and ISS."

Although the first station launch, the launch of the Functional Energy Block (FGB) on a Russian Proton booster, is delayed by eight months in the new schedule, the beginning of full-fledged research flights to the station in August 1999 -- the end of Phase 2 of the program -- is a delay of only four months from what previously had been planned. To enhance the station's capabilities, modifications will be made to the FGB to allow it to be refueled and to accommodate dockings by Russian Soyuz capsules.

Despite delays in the Russian hardware, work has continued on all U.S. station components, and the first U.S.-built component, Node 1, will be delivered to the Kennedy Space Center this summer for pre-launch testing and processing. Node 1 will be launched on Space Shuttle mission STS-88 in July 1998 to be mated to the already-orbiting FGB. Because U.S. components such as the laboratory module, the first truss segment and the first solar array remain on schedule, NASA will take advantage of the extra time in assembly to pursue integrated testing of components after they are shipped to KSC.

"A little more than a year from now, we'll launch the first component. About a year and a half from now, we will launch the first crew. Only two years from today, that first crew will be finishing up the first tour onboard. Four Shuttle assembly flights will already have been completed. And we'll be only a few months from completing Phase 2 of the program," Brinkley said. "This spacecraft is on deck, and we are number one on the runway."

Other highlights of the new schedule, called the ISS Assembly Sequence, Rev. C, include:

* In January 1999, the second Space Shuttle assembly mission, designated STS-92 and assembly Flight 3A, will be launched and later followed by a Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying the first crew -- ISS Commander Bill Shepherd, Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev -- to begin a permanent human presence on the ISS.

* Two Space Shuttle flights have been added to the assembly sequence to increase margin and add flexibility. The flights, called flight 2A.1 in late 1998 and flight 7A.1 in late 1999, may be used to offload cargo from adjacent assembly flights and assist with U.S. outfitting of the station.

* At present, NASA plans to continue the conversion of a Naval Research Laboratory stage into an Interim Control Module (ICM), that could be used to augment the station's future propulsion capabilities if needed by being attached to either the Functional Cargo Block (FGB) or the Service Module.

* Assembly flight 13A, a shuttle mission that carries two additional solar arrays, has been realigned earlier in the assembly sequence and will provide additional power for scientific activities and station assembly.

* Launch date options for the European Space Agency's Columbus Orbital Facility remain under evaluation. While these options are analyzed, the launch dates for all flights after Utilization Flight 5 in June 2002 will remain under review; however, the U.S. Habitat Module will be fully outfitted by December 2002 regardless of the launch options chosen. These launch dates are expected to be set at a Space Station Control Board meeting in Fall 1997.

A fact sheet on the new assembly sequence, graphics, this news release and other updated information on the International Space Station is available on the Internet in a preview of a new ISS web site under development at:

and for the assembly sequence:

This site will be accessible as of 8 a.m.EDT on Thursday, May 15, 1997.


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