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NASA Reportedly Will Drop 18 Shuttle Spacelab Missions in Blow to Scientists

September 01, 1986|United Press International

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — The National Aeronautics and Space Administration will cancel up to 18 shuttle Spacelab missions planned for the next five years, a devastating blow to space scientists, an aerospace magazine reports in this week's edition.

Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine said in its Sept. 1 edition that NASA probably will launch only three Spacelab missions before 1990 as a consequence of the Jan. 28 Challenger disaster.

"There is no point in us putting any funding now into any mission that will have no flight activity in five years, so those missions have been canceled," said Samuel Keller, NASA deputy associate administrator for space science and applications.

Spacelab is a $1-billion system developed for the shuttle with European cooperation to allow advanced scientific work in orbit.

Habitable Module

Several configurations can be flown, including a habitable laboratory module in the shuttle's cargo bay and instruments mounted on special pallets in the spaceship's cargo bay.

Aviation Week said the only Spacelab missions now planned before the end of the decade are an ultraviolet telescope pallet and a life sciences flight using a module. Another high-priority mission is a microgravity research pallet.

"NASA will release a list of the canceled missions in several weeks after the principal investigators have been notified," Aviation Week said.

Left unresolved is the status of at least two Spacelab missions planned by the Strategic Defense Initiative missile defense program.

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