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German who flew shuttle says Europe shortchanged

The West German physicist who was the first European to fly aboard a space shuttle says NASA has not given the European Space Agency a fair return on its nearly $1 billion Spacelab research module.

Ulf Merbold said Monday the latest shuttle flight proved Spacelab's worth. But he said the 10 European nations that paid to develop Spacelab may not get their money's worth.

NASA and ESA signed a joint agreement in which ESA promised to design and build Spacelab for NASA, free of charge. In return, NASA promised to fly dozens of European experiments aboard Spacelab at no cost and to buy a second Spacelab module in the future. But Dr. Merbold said he feared that European politicians would not consider Europe's return great enough to merit developing a second lab.

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