NASA Balks at Taking Physics Gear Into Space

NASA has scheduled just 10 more space shuttle flights before retiring its fleet for good. But the space agency may have to add one more mission, to bring a seven-ton $1.5 billion physics experiment into space.

The House of Representatives will vote Wednesday on a bill that would require NASA to plan an additional flight for the equipment. NASA long ago promised to carry the device to orbit — but it cancelled the plan due to a tight schedule.

The gear, which includes anti-matter and cosmic-ray detectors, would be taken to the space station. The instrument was built largely with foreign funding.

But the agency says there is no room for it on the currently planned flights, which are full with higher-priority items, including backup hardware for the space station.

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