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Nasa ‘reviews shuttle shelf-life’ Monday, 1 September, 2008

Posted by Farbod in Features, News.
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BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Nasa ‘reviews shuttle shelf-life’.

By Paul Rincon
Science reporter, BBC News

Space shuttle Discovery (Nasa)

Could this sight continue for several years to come?

Nasa will study whether the space shuttle can operate beyond its planned retirement in 2010, reports say.

The agency will look at what might be required to delay the retirement of its fleet until the shuttle’s replacement – Ares-Orion – begins flying in 2015.

The exercise is aimed at answering questions it expects on the matter from Congress and the incoming president.

News of the study comes from a leaked internal email obtained by a Florida-based newspaper.

Nasa chief Michael Griffin, who is reported to have ordered the study, had previously opposed extending the shuttle programme.

The agency’s administrator argued that the money and effort required to do so would stymie progress on the Ares rockets and the Apollo-style Orion capsules that will succeed the shuttle.

These are being developed by Nasa as part of its “Constellation” programme. The system is expected to carry astronauts to the Moon under the Vision for Space Exploration plans announced by President George W Bush in 2004. (more…)