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Advisory panel asks NASA to set lifetime for shuttle program
Posted: Thu, Feb 8, 2001, 6:21 PM ET (2321 GMT)
An independent advisory panel recommended Thursday that NASA set a service life for the space shuttle program long enough to allow it to be the primary vehicle for transporting people to the International Space Station throughout the station's lifetime. The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) made that recommendation the primary one in its annual report to NASA, saying that establishing a long service life for the shuttle will allow the agency to move ahead with safety upgrades to the vehicles that might otherwise be deferred until NASA makes a decision on the shuttle's successor. Such a decision would also improve morale for the agency's workforce, the panel noted, by making it clear to those working on the shuttle program that they have a "viable career path" and thus retain people with critical skills. Other recommendations by the panel called for a study of shuttle crew escape systems, plans for upgrading ground equipment, accelerated work on the X-38 crew return vehicle prototype, and additional efforts to train and retain skilled workers.
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