NASA Studies Shuttle Program Extension, Fall Launch Delay

Space Shuttle

NASA is taking a look at what might be required to postpone the retirement of its three space shuttles until their Orion capsule replacement begins operational flight in 2015, but only as a preparatory measure for Congress and the incoming president, agency officials said Friday.

The study, called for by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, is aimed at preparing for inquiries on how the agency intends to fill the gap between the shuttle fleet's retirement in 2010 and the first flights of Orion, said John Yembrick, a spokesperson for spaceflight operations at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

"The Administrator asked the program managers to evaluate this potential of flying through 2015," Yembrick told, stressing that the agency currently is not planning to fly shuttles beyond 2010. "We're doing the analysis so we can gather the data, and so when we're asked we can give some smart, timely answers."

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