Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Space Shuttle Replacement Delayed

NASA has put off the planned launch of its next-generation Orion spacecraft for a year, a setback to efforts to fly a successor to its aging space shuttles, the space agency announced Monday.

"September 2014 is when we are saying we will launch the first crew on the Orion," program manager Jeff Hanley told reporters in a conference call Monday.

NASA officials plan to wrap up assembly of the International Space Station and retire the space shuttle fleet in 2010, freeing up money to build and fly the new spacecraft. Cost concerns are at the root of the delay, but NASA is also giving itself wiggle room to deal with the unforeseen technical problems that will inevitably crop up, Hanley said.

"It's the unknown unknowns that we have to hedge against," he said. "Having some number of months of schedule flexibility to meet our commitment, in addition to having some number of months of cost -- dollars -- flexibility, is key to keeping ourselves in a healthy posture."

Read the full story at CNN..com

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