Sabotage At NASA

A space program worker deliberately damaged a computer that is supposed to fly aboard shuttle Endeavour in less than two weeks, but the act was caught before the equipment was loaded onto the spaceship, NASA said.

The computer had no command and control or navigation functions, according to Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for space operations.

The damage would not have affected the astronauts, he said.

The shuttle Endeavour is supposed to take the computer to the space station after its August 7 launch.

The computer is to be installed in the U.S. laboratory to monitor sensors on the space station's truss.

"It will be repaired, and it will fly on this flight," Gerstenmaier said.

The subcontractor that supplied the computer told NASA about the damaged computer more than a week ago, The Associated Press reported. Workers found the damaged equipment before it was loaded on the Endeavour.

Gerstenmaier said officials would have caught the problem in testing even if the subcontractor had not notified NASA, AP reported.

"The damage is very obvious. It's easy to detect. It's not a mystery to us," he said, according to AP.

Gerstenmaier would not name the subcontractor that supplied the computer. He did say it is not based at Kennedy Space Center.

Management does not think the incident is related to the ongoing strike at Kennedy Space Center between prime shuttle contractor U.S. Space Alliance and the machinists union, Gerstenmaier said.

NASA's inspector general office has launched an investigation into the matter.

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