But when will it all come tumbling down
A statement last Tuesday from the Khrunichev Space Center says all basic technical parameters of the module fully comply with the requirements of the technical plan and have been certified by NASA.
During its flight Zarya, the first element of ISS has demonstrated its reliability. The initially planned term of its unmanned operation has been by far exceeded.
The combination of Zarya and Unity modules continues regular automatic operation with the fulfillment of all safety requirements.
In response to the accusations of the foreign press that Russia installed low quality equipment in Zarya the press release says that technical experts from Boeing who ordered the module monitored the construction of Zarya at the Khrunichev Space Center. American experts saw to it that each stage of operations would conform with NASA safety regulations.
The main requirement was to guarantee a 15 year service life to the module. The Khrunichev center has guaranteed such an operating life which has been proved by ground tests and certificates of the NASA safety commission, the press release says.
The center developed special new technology and designs to guarantee protection from micrometeorites. This technology has also been duly tested by the two sides.
All the initial NASA requirements on permitted noise levels were fulfilled in keeping with the technical instructions given to the Khrunichev center.
However, already after Zarya was launched, the American side decided to reduce the noise level in the module. Khrunichev experts found technical solutions fast that reduced noise levels to a new low in the process of the flight.
The press release says measuring instruments indicate that all air parameters inside Zarya have been within the set norms during the flight which is confirmed by the joint protocols of Russian and American experts.
Zarya is equipped with special air filters and air samples taken after every crew visit to the module prove the filters have been functioning effectively.
The coming flight of Atlantis to ISS is aimed at planned maintenance operations aboard Zarya and Unity to guarantee their autonomous flight until the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Interfax reports that Yuri Koptev, the head of the Russian Aerospace Agency, told a news conference in Moscow last Wednesday that Zarya, will keep the Zarya-Unity assembly operational for at least two more months.
"The U.S. Atlantis mission to be launched in May will install equipment on the modules and carry out various repair and preventive maintenance activities. There is no question of emergency jobs to rescue the first components of the ISS, as reported by certain Western papers," he said.
Responding to reports in Western media questioning the quality of Zarya and its compliance with NASA's flight safety standards, Koptev said that the quality and standards fully comply with the requirements set by Boeing, the customer, and documents confirm this.
Russian and U.S. researchers found that the samples of air inside Zarya and Unity taken by the previous shuttle mission were normal, he said.
It is true that the noise level inside the Zarya - Unity assembly was five decibels above the target level, but the source of excessive noise has been found and sound insulating panels have been developed that will be installed in a certain compartment, Koptev said.
ISS Keeps Orbiting
Houston - April 13, 2000 - The International Space Station continues to be monitored by flight controllers in Houston and Moscow, with no major systems problems. Attention soon will turn toward preparations for the arrival of the Space Shuttle Atlantis bringing life-extension components while awaiting the launch of the next module in the assembly sequence - the Zvezda service module.