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Next shuttle launch delayed to March
Posted: Fri, Aug 19, 2005, 8:34 AM ET (1234 GMT)
STS-121: logo (NASA) In a widely-anticipated move, NASA announced Thursday that it would delay the next shuttle mission until March 2006 to give the agency more time to resolve the foam shedding problem experienced during the last flight. NASA had planned to launch Atlantis on STS-121 during a launch window in late September, but instead now plans to launch the mission no earlier than March 4. The move had been expected because of the need to study why a large chunk of foam fell off the external tank during last month's launch of the shuttle Discovery. Only a few days remained in the September launch window, and after that NASA had only brief launch windows in November and January before March. NASA also decided to fly Discovery on STS-121 mission, saving Atlantis for the next mission, tentatively scheduled for May 2006. NASA is still planning to retire the shuttle by 2010; administrator Michael Griffin said during a Thursday press conference he is no longer aiming for a specific number of flights but rather the "orderly and expeditious retirement" of the shuttle during that time.
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