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NASA: Russia will come through with key part of space station

presser May 15, 1997
Web posted at: 1:24 p.m. EDT (1724 GMT)

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Russia's problems with funding its part of the international space station appear to be solved for now, NASA said Thursday. Russia will remain in charge of building the crucial third segment, officials said.

"I am happy to report that it appears that that funding problem is behind us," International Space Station Program Manager Randy Brinkley said at a news conference. icon (391K/35 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

Brinkley

However, the first delivery of equipment for the station will be delayed eight months to June 1998, Brinkley said.

He also said NASA is going ahead with its own alternative to the Russian module, an Interim Control Module that would replace the service module if it is not delivered. The alternative equipment will add up to $200 million to the U.S. share of the cost.

Russia completed the first section, and U.S. contractors in Alabama finished the second. Russia was to build the third vital section, known as the service module, but the project is running more than a year behind schedule.

Two months ago, the Russians announced that financial problems were keeping their space agency from completing the service module on time. NASA responded by delaying the launch of any space station element.

NASA and other space station partners were considering dropping Russia from the station partnership because of the delay, but didn't want to exercise that option.

"If you take the Russians out of the picture, we lose the space station and jeopardize the entire space program," said John Pike of the Federation of American Sciences.

And Brinkley said NASA is glad to have Russia back on board.

"All along, this has not been a lack of willingness on the part of the Russian space agency nor their contractors," Brinkley said. "They want to participate in the international space station. This has been a difficulty within the country, and clearly Russia has some very difficult challenges overall in terms of their economic situation and competition."

The space station is being built by the United States, Russia, several European countries, Canada and Japan.

Correspondent John Holliman contributed to this report.  
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