Russia Co. Building Space Component
MOSCOW (AP) _ A struggling Russian space company is building a duplicate for a key component of the international space station, even though both the Russian and American governments have refused to pay for it.
The Khrunichev space engineering company built the original cargo module for the space station under a $190 million contract with Boeing.
The module, which will house fuel tanks and gyroscopes and be attached to the station’s solar batteries, has been taken to the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakstan in preparation for launching in November.
The launch was originally scheduled for June, but has been pushed back because of the Russian government’s failure to finance other parts of the work on the international station on time.
The Khrunichev company offered to build a backup cargo module _ ``in case of failure″ _ and asked the United States to finance it, said Khrunichev spokesman Sergei Zhiltsov.
``But we have found little understanding,″ he said.
The company decided to build the backup module itself, using revenues from other contracts, Zhiltsov said. He provided no reasons for the company’s eagerness to do this.
Zhiltsov said he did not know how much the construction would cost. But he said it would be less than the original, because the company can use the same blueprints and technologies that have already been developed.
Khrunichev also built the living quarters for the international space station. That was to have been financed by Russia, but the government was chronically late with payments so the company took out bank loans to finish the work on time, Khrunichev said.
The living quarters were to have been sent into orbit in December, but the launch has been postponed until next August. Russia’s RKK Energiya company still has to furnish some equipment for the living quarters, Zhiltsov said, warning that the work may be jeopardized by the government’s failure to pay.
The $21 billion international space station is a joint project of 16 countries, including Russia, the United States, the European Space Agency, Canada and Japan.
The station’s segments will be assembled in orbit. The first American-led crew is expected to board the station in July 1999, more than a year later than originally planned.