News of the WeekRussian Space Science

Station Launch Hides Lingering Woes

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Science  20 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5393, pp. 1391-1393
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5393.1391

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MOSCOW-- As the rest of the space community readies its payloads for the scheduled launch on 20 November of the first piece of the $50 billion international space station, Russian space scientists must resign themselves to a limited role until at least 2003 as a result of their country's decision to sell NASA thousands of hours of station time earmarked by Russian cosmonauts for the $60 million needed to complete a key station component. In addition, the launch of the Russian-backed Spectrum-X-Gamma spacecraft, a $500 million international effort to study x-rays, is running almost a decade behind schedule. Even a last-ditch effort to postpone the dismantlement of the Mir space station, allowing some biology to continue, may not survive in Russia's harsh fiscal environment.