"Unfortunately, it's hardly a surprise," says TIME correspondent Jeffrey Kluger. The cash-strapped Russians still haven't built the life-support module. NASA is behind on an X-ray telescope. Prime station contractor Boeing is over budget by $800 million. "An international, collaborative effort like this, with each engineer answering to his own country or his own contractor -- these delays won't be the last."
The figures are staggering enough already. Originally promised to President Reagan in 1984, the ISS was slated for a 1992 launch at a cost of $8 billion. Now NASA is hoping for 1999. The cost? At least $22 billion, but no one's sure.