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U.S. space shuttle launch to go ahead as planned - NASA expert

RIA Novosti

27/07/2007 15:32 MOSCOW, July 27 (RIA Novosti) - The launch of space shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station (ISS) will go ahead as scheduled on August 7, and will not be delayed due to earlier reported sabotage, a NASA expert in Russia said Friday.

NASA Associate Administrator for Space Operations Bill Gerstenmaier said Thursday an employee from a NASA subcontractor had deliberate cut wires in a computer, which was due to be delivered by Endeavour to the $100 billion ISS.

The Moscow-based expert from NASA said the damaged computer was intended for use in data transmission from various ISS onboard sensors, for instance from solar batteries and accelerometers.

He also said that the damage would not have posed a threat to the ISS crew's safety, adding that he was certain the equipment would be fixed before the scheduled launch of the space shuttle.

The reported act of sabotage is not the only incident that is tainting NASA' image, Aviation Week & Space Technology international aviation weekly said Thursday, that a NASA medical panel had established U.S. astronauts flew while heavily intoxicated on at least two occasions.

The weekly, which obtained the panel's findings, said "flight surgeons and other astronauts warned they were so intoxicated that they posed a flight-safety risk."

The launch of the NASA STS-118 mission is targeted for August 7. It will be the 22nd flight to the International Space Station (ISS) and the first flight for Endeavour since 2002.

Endeavour, which has been modernized and equipped with a new system designed to let the shuttle use electrical power from the space station, will deliver a new truss segment, a Spacehab module, and an external stowage platform to the ISS, which is planned to be completed by 2010.

NASA said that during the 11-day mission, the seven-member Endeavour crew would conduct three space walks. An electrical boost from the space station would allow the mission to be extended for three extra days, and an additional spacewalk added.

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