October 28, 2005

CORRECTED – Space station anniversary sees a challenged NASA

In WASHINGTON story of October 27, headlined "Space station
anniversary sees a challenged NASA," please read in 6th
paragraph ... Only one shuttle has traveled to the station
since the Columbia accident ... instead of ... No U.S. vehicles
have traveled to the station since the Columbia accident .

A corrected repetition follows.

By Deborah Zabarenko

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - NASA trumpeted five years of human
flight on the International Space Station on Thursday, at a
time when U.S. astronauts need Russian vehicles to get there
and space agency finances are under fire for mismanagement.

Former residents of the orbiting outpost gathered at NASA's
Johnson Space Center in Houston to reminisce about their
voyages in a televised briefing featuring video clips of
weightless space voyagers caroming around with such props as
bite-size candies, a guitar and Hawaiian shirts.

The first station crew arrived at the complex on November
2, 2000. Ed Lu, a member of the first two-person crew to travel
to the station after the fatal disintegration of space shuttle
Columbia in 2003, described his impressions.

"We closed the hatch ... Yuri (Malenchenko, Lu's Russian
crewmate) and I looked at each other and said to each other,
'What have we gotten ourselves into? You're stuck with me and
I'm stuck with you for the next six months. I hope this goes
well,"' Lu said. "As it turned out, it went extremely well. It
went by much faster than I ever thought it would go."

The cost of the ISS, including its development, assembly
and operation, could well exceed $100 billion, shared between
the participating nations.

Only one shuttle has traveled to the station since the
Columbia accident, which killed all seven shuttle crew members.
With the shuttle fleet grounded until at least May 2006, Lu and
Malenchenko were ferried aloft by a Russian Soyuz space taxi,
currently the only mode of human transport to the station.


Both houses of the U.S. Congress had to pass legislation to
ensure that Americans will continue to have a ride aboard Soyuz
until 2011, because of the Iran Nonproliferation Act, which
bars the U.S. use of most Russian space technology as long as
Russia exports nuclear and missile technology to Iran.

President George W. Bush is expected to sign a waiver to
the act that allows astronaut travel to the station aboard
Russian space ships. The waiver would cover astronauts until
the shuttles are phased out in 2010 after the completion of the
space station.

First envisioned in the 1980s, the 16-nation project has
been repeatedly scaled down as costs rose. At this point, NASA
figures it will take 18 shuttle flights -- down from 28 -- to
complete construction. No station construction flights will
occur until after next May's mission, while NASA tackles a
persistent problem with falling debris on liftoff.

The U.S. space agency must deal with physical challenges,
including unexpected delays prompted by recent hurricanes, but
it also must get its finances in order.

A report issued on Thursday by Congress' General
Accountability Office found a long-term high risk for waste,
fraud and abuse at NASA, largely due to the lack of reliable
information on how much it spends on contractors and how well
the contractors perform.

In 2003, NASA's independent auditors found the agency could
not reconcile a $1.7 billion difference between what NASA
thought it had and what was actually in its balance in the U.S.

That difference was whittled to $46.6 million by the end of
September, according to Gwendolyn Sykes, the space agency's
chief financial officer, in testimony at a congressional
hearing on NASA's finances.

"The testimony we've heard has been depressing, totally
depressing," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California
Republican. "NASA has an image of overcoming challenges that
are preventing humankind from going into space. It seems that
NASA has been unable to overcome the challenge of good
financial record-keeping."