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Russia May Sell Time in Space

September 29, 1999

MOSCOW (AP) _ The cash strapped Russian government may sell some of its time on the International Space Station so it can raise money to build crucial segments of the orbiter, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

Moscow has already sold some of its early research time on the station to NASA for $60 million.

Now, Moscow is in talks with Japan and the European Space Agency about selling them time, Russian Space Agency chief Yuri Koptev was quoted as saying in the Wednesday edition of the daily Moscow Times.

The revenues would help finance the construction of Russian segments of the 16-nation project. Russia has been too broke to build key components on time, delaying the project by more than a year.

Russian Space Agency spokesman Konstantin Kreidenko refused to confirm the talks, but said the possibility of the sale could not be ruled out.

``Russia, as one of the builders of the ISS, has the right to dispose of its resources on the station, and therefore can very well ... sell time allocated for its crews,″ Kreidenko said in a telephone interview.

Russia has a right to 30 percent of manned missions to the station. The Europeans and Japanese together have slightly over 20 percent.

As with the sale of research time to NASA, Kreidenko insisted the deal would not hurt Russia’s space program, which lost most of its funding after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

``On the forefront are the priorities of Russia. If (the sale) doesn’t hurt, then we can discuss some kind of a deal. If it does, there can be no deal,″ he said.

Kreidenko refused to speculate on how much time could be sold or what the deal might be worth.

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