Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 72

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conceded yesterday that construction of the International Space Station would be delayed for nearly a year because the Russian government has not provided the money to its aerospace contractors to build an important component. (VOA, April 9) When Russian Space Agency (RSA) general director Yuri Koptev announced a similar delay earlier this year, NASA said a final decision had not been made on pushing back the construction schedule. (See Monitor, February 25) Highlighting its financial problems, the RSA also announced yesterday that the two Russian cosmonauts aboard the Mir space station would have to extend their stay in orbit because of a shortage of booster rockets to launch the capsule with their replacements. The cosmonauts’ mission was to have ended June 24, but will be extended until at least August 5. (UPI, April 9)

Meanwhile, the Moscow company that built the original Soviet "Buran" space shuttle, the Molniya Scientific and Industrial Enterprise, has built a smaller version and is hoping the Russian government will use it to revive the shuttle program. The Buran was modeled on the American space shuttle, but the program was terminated in 1988 for lack of funds. Only one flight — an unmanned one — was ever made. The world’s largest aircraft, the An-225, was built to transport the shuttle on its back between its launch and recover sites.

The new space vehicle is said to be one-half the Buran’s size and able to carry only one-third as large a payload. With the Russian government unable to find the money to meet its obligations in the International Space Station, it seems highly unlikely this new idea will get much support. The American space shuttles have themselves not proved to be as economical a means of putting payloads into space as originally forecast. (Itar-Tass, April 10)

Russian Intelligence Services Step Up Activity, Focusing on NATO Expansion.