msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/27/2007 9:19:42 PM ET 2007-07-28T01:19:42

A Houston-area company supplied NASA with a computer that had been deliberately damaged, a company official said Friday.

The computer is slated to fly to the international space station next month aboard space shuttle Endeavour. The space agency announced Thursday that wires inside the computer had been cut.

The manufacturer, Invocon Inc., an electronics research and development firm based in Conroe, Texas, has not yet identified any suspects or motives, said Invocon program director Kevin Champaigne.

“We don’t know if it was just one person or if it was more than one,” he said.

Invocon made the unit for Boeing Co., NASA’s main contractor for the space station, he said.

Asked about the sabotage at a news conference in Washington on Friday, NASA’s Deputy Administrator Shana Dale said she couldn’t provide any more details because the agency’s inspector general was investigating the incident.

The sabotage report came a day before NASA released the findings of an independent panel  set up by the space agency to study astronaut health issues after the arrest in February of former astronaut Lisa Nowak on assault charges. The panel found "heavy use of alcohol" by astronauts within 12 hours of launch, which is against NASA rules.

On Thursday, NASA officials said the damaged hardware did not pose a safety risk. The hardware, which is about half the size of a briefcase, is headed to the space station to collect data from strain gauges on an outside beam.

Invocon alerted Boeing after finding severed wires in an identical unit they were testing last week. The unit delivered to NASA and another in storage had similar damage.

Ed Memi, a spokesman for Chicago-based Boeing, said the two units were last tested on June 4 at Invocon and shipped to Boeing about a week later. Boeing is repairing them with help from Invocon staff.

Invocon, a 20-year-old company that employs about 30 people, has worked with Boeing since 2004.

This report includes information from The Associated Press, Reuters and MSNBC.com.

© 2013 msnbc.com

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