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December shuttle mission possible but unlikely
Posted: Thu, Jun 19, 2003, 10:47 AM ET (1447 GMT)
STS-107: launch (NASA/KSC) NASA is still planning to return the shuttle to flight with a December launch, but a key official conceded that most likely that launch will slip until early 2004. Michael Kostelnik, NASA deputy associate administrator for the shuttle and ISS programs, said at KSC Wednesday that the agency still believed it was possible to conduct a launch in December. However, he admitted that new constraints the agency plans to put on shuttle launches, notably a requirement for daytime launches to permit photography, allow for launches on only two days in December, the 18th and 19th. Kostelnik said that a return to flight some time in the first quarter of 2004 was more likely. Shuttle upgrade plans will also put constraints on future shuttle launches, requiring the shuttle Atlantis to perform back-to-back missions in early 2004, the Houston Chronicle reported. NASA and the United Space Alliance, the space shuttle operations prime contractor, plan to begin a two-year overhaul of Endeavour in July, while Discovery started a similar overhaul last year.
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