LONDON—Britain may be moving out of step with its European partners over plans to take part in NASA's $12 billion space station.

British space officials reported January 22 at an international conference sponsored by the Royal Society that Britain will urge a more cautious approach than that being advocated by the European Space Agency. The 13-member agency this year expects to draw up final plans for Columbus, its contribution to the U.S.-financed space station scheduled to be assembled in the mid-1990s.

Columbus will consist of a pressurized module permanently attached to the core space station. It also will contain a free-flying polar platform, a man-tended free flyer with a small pressurized module and an unmanned platform.

A study commissioned by Britain's new space agency, the British National Centre, has enthusiastically backed Columbus. But the minister responsible for space policy, Geoffrey Pattie, warned that "we in Britain have succeeded in space...

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