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International partners concerned about NASA's role in ISS
Posted: Fri, Nov 9, 2001, 10:16 AM ET (1516 GMT)
ISS illustration (NASA) Statements by several of the international partners in the International Space Station project this week have raised concerns about NASA's ability to meet its commitments to the project. Representatives of both the Canadian Space Agency and European Space Agency separately contacted the US State Department last week, expressing doubts that NASA can meet its ISS obligations and requested senior-level meetings to discuss the situation. Those letters were released during a Congressional hearing on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Russian space agency Rosaviakosmos has said that it will not provide Soyuz spacecraft to serve as lifeboats for the station beyond January 2005, when its contractual obligation to do so expires. Unless the other partners purchase Soyuz spacecraft from Russia, or develop their own crew return vehicle, only Russia would be able to mount long-term expeditions to the station after that date. These reports have come at a time when NASA's management of the station has come under harsh criticism by an independent report as well as members of Congress. Members of Congress have blamed everyone from the Bush Administration to the former Clinton Administration for not providing the station program with the management and funding needed to succeed.
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