International Space Station Service Module Contingency Planning Underway

By Keith Cowing
January 25, 2000
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[25 Jan 2000]

The ISS program is evaluating several manifest options right now. One assumes that the Service Module will be launched (but delayed yet again). The plan shows the US Lab being launched in March of 2001 and the Service Module being launched in December 2000. The plan to make up for this slip is apparently to do a series of 5 Shuttle flights as fast as KSC can process orbiters. These flights would be packed in between December 2000 and March/April 2001.

The other option being evaluated revolves around the Service Module not being in the program. The motivation for such studies depends on who you talk to and has a substantial rumor component. None the less, the motivating rationale for not having the Service Module in the program ranges from a launch mishap, to further ground processing/Proton delays, and even the possibility that Russia might send the Service Module to Mir now that commercial support seems to be materializing.

There is one major technical hurdle that tends to undermine the rumor that the Service Module might be sent to Mir. According to Russian Space Analyst Jim Oberg, “the Service Module has neither the guidance system nor the steering jets to dock with Mir. Mir does not have the ability to do this either”. According to Oberg and other NASA sources, a more plausible approach for another component being sent to Mir is the almost-completed FGB-2, not the Service Module.

Background Material

° International Space Station Schedules Reviews, presentation charts to the DSSICB, 7 January 2000 [1.6 MB Adobe Acrobat file]

Editor’s note: This 53 page ISS Program presentation contains charts that cover the schedules for various aspects of flights 2A.1, 1R, 2A.2, 3A, 4A, 5A, 5A.1, 6A, 7A, 8A, 9A, 11A, 12A, 13A. The Service Module’s launch date is shown with “TBD” and does not reflect current ISS contingency planning.

° Space Shuttle Mission Guides, SpaceRef

° Human Spaceflight website, NASA

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.