News In Brief

Space team weighs delay in US-European mission

US space officials were deciding Thursday whether to postpone this month's joint European-American manned space mission following a near-tragedy on the last space shuttle flight in August.

Engineers discovered after the last mission that a heat shield on the nozzle of one of the shuttle's two booster rockets almost burned through. If it had burned off completely, the shuttle, with five crewmen on board, would have swerved severely off course and perhaps even crashed.

If a decision is made to replace parts on the shuttle, the Oct. 28 mission could be delayed by about 30 days, according to launch operations experts. Such a delay would have a serious adverse impact on the nine-day mission, during which more than 70 scientific investigations are to be conducted.

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