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NASA considers trimming shuttle schedule
Posted: Sat, Oct 30, 2004, 8:49 AM ET (1249 GMT)
STS-107: launch (NASA/KSC) NASA managers confirmed Friday that they are looking at ways to reduce the number of shuttle flights currently planned to complete the International Space Station. MSNBC first reported late Thursday that shuttle managers were looking at ways to cut the number of shuttle flights from the 28 currently on the manifest, perhaps reducing the number to 20. NASA officials confirmed that report during a return-to-flight press conference Friday, saying that such studies started about a month ago and have been driven primarily by budget concerns. A problem with cutting shuttle flights is that the modules built for the station and yet to be launched were designed to fly on the shuttle, which could necessitate significant alternations were they to be shifted to another launcher. Not launching the modules at all could also violate existing agreements among the station's international partners. At that press conference Friday NASA officials confirmed that they were planning the first post-Columbia shuttle launch, STS-114, for a launch window that opens in mid-May of 2005.
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