Russia and the United States gave conflicting signals about the way forward with the International Space Station now that the only remaining transport there -- the Soyuz -- has been temporarily grounded after an accident.
Russia said it was determined to keep the ISS manned despite the recent failure of the only booster rocket capable of bringing replacement astronauts aloft.
"We will do everything possible not to leave the station without a crew," Aleksei Krasnov, head of Russia's piloted space vehicle program, told Interfax. "We are going to have a manned mission [to the ISS] by the end of December."
But the U.S. space program said that if the problems are not identified and solved by mid-November, all of the six ISS astronauts would be brought back to Earth.
NASA's space station program manager, Mike Suffredini, said several options are being studied, but that crew safety comes first. He said controllers on the ground could keep a deserted space station functioning, but explained that without a crew any problem could not be fixed.
His comments come just weeks after NASA's final space shuttle flight.
compiled from agency reports