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  Tuesday, March 31, 2020
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Any new possible accident with the space shuttle Discovery could seriously damage the Unites States' reputation as the space superpower
Any new possible accident with the space shuttle Discovery could seriously damage the Unites States' reputation as the space superpower, a cosmonaut said Thursday. "It is necessary to keep in mind that only three space shuttles are left and if any, not even serious, problem occurs with Discovery, it will be a reason to cancel the entire space shuttle program," Afanasyev said. "In general, space shuttle operations will end in 2010, but they could end sooner if something else happens." He said the U.S. space shuttles experience frequent delays, but Russian shuttles are still launched, despite defects. "For example, in 1999 one of the launch vehicle's dome chains was not operational, but there were three others and set it up for lift-off." Afanasyev has also said that fractures in a space shuttle could be found on any spacecraft, and it was acceptable to change a defective unit and lift-off, provided there is a back up of important units. "We had also delayed some take-offs, but in recent years it hasn't happened," he said. "We've never delayed after a crew's arrival." Afanasyev said a change in a docking schedule would lead to a change in the crew's agenda. A moratorium on space-shuttles flights was set nearly two and a half years ago after the tragic blow up of the space shuttle Columbia with seven astronauts onboard. The Discovery flight will be the 144th mission within the space shuttle program.
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