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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Puts NASA Behind Schedule

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- Russia's inability to launch a key part of the International Space Station by the end of the year has wrecked NASA's shuttle flight schedule, U.S. space agency officials said.

"I don't recall a period when we had as many flights in question as we do right now," shuttle program manager Tommy Holloway said after Columbia returned from a two-week science mission Sunday. (See story, Page 7.)

The only sure shuttle flights for the rest of 1998 are NASA's last trip to Mir to pick up astronaut Andrew Thomas in June, and a science mission to study senior spaceman John Glenn in October.

NASA was supposed to launch Endeavour on the first U.S. station assembly flight in July, 1 1/2 weeks after the Russians sent up the first piece of the new joint station. But Holloway acknowledged Sunday that Endeavour will fly no earlier than Sept. 4.

That date could slip later into September -- and possibly even into December or January, he said. The first Russian launch also will be bumped, along with everything else in the space station lineup.

U.S. and Russian space officials expect to announce a new station assembly schedule by the end of May. Top-level managers from both countries met last week in Moscow to discuss the status of Russia's stalled service module, the third link in the station that was supposed to be launched from Kazakhstan in December.

If Endeavour doesn't soar until December, then a telescope-delivery mission by Columbia would slide into January, Holloway said. And vice versa: If the telescope-delivery mission stays on track for December, then Endeavour would haul up its station part in January.