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Panel: shuttle return-to-flight still faces challenges
Posted: Thu, May 20, 2004, 8:50 PM ET (0050 GMT)
STS-107: launch (NASA/KSC) An independent panel reviewing NASA's efforts to return the space shuttle program to flight believes that effort is making good progress but faces challenges that could make it difficult for the agency to meet its current schedule. The Stafford-Covey Return to Flight Task Group, led by former astronauts Thomas Stafford and Richard Covey, noted in their latest interim report that NASA has successfully implemented three of the 15 return-to-flight recommendations made by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, and is making progress on the other 12. However, Covey told reporters that while efforts to develop an inspection boom to survey otherwise-inaccessible portions of the shuttle in orbit are on schedule, that schedule is "success-oriented" with little margin for problems. Covey said that NASA should narrow a list of alternatives should problems with the boom development persist. The shuttle is scheduled to return to flight in March 2005.
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