WASHINGTON — NASA disputed a report Monday that a planned $30-billion space station is seriously flawed because it would begin to wear out and require extensive maintenance before it is completed.
William Lenoir, associate administrator for space flight for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said problems outlined in a story in the New York Times and repeated in the Los Angeles Times are not new and will be overcome once the proposed station, called Freedom, reaches the construction stage.
In a statement, Lenoir said questions about the space station's durability "apparently result from a worst-case scenario that NASA used in a normal risk analysis assessment during the station's preliminary design phase."
"This scenario is not considered credible," he said, adding that scientists assume "unrealistically pessimistic" conditions to make sure the space station can withstand the rigors of orbiting Earth.
The newspaper, citing NASA sources, said anticipated maintenance problems could force a redesign of the 400-foot-long station, which is the centerpiece of the U.S. space program in the 1990s and beyond.