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NASA's Parsons: Five Shuttle Missions In '07 May Be Optimistic

Says Logistical Issues May Postpone Later Flights

If, like us, you were looking forward to witnessing five shuttle launches in 2007... NASA says prepare to be disappointed.

Incoming Kennedy Space Center director Bill Parsons said logistical issues -- involving the numerous steps needed to ready each of the space agency's three orbiters after they return from missions to the International Space Station -- could spell trouble for NASA's ambitious goal to launch shuttles in March, June, September, October and December.

"I know that we have three (flights) that we believe we can really make right now," Parsons told the Associated Press. "The other two are going to be a little tougher at the end of the year. One of them may slip over into the next year, but that's really no big deal."

The last time NASA flew five shuttle missions in the same year was 2002... when NASA had four orbiters in the rotation. All scheduled flights for 2007 are aimed at finishing construction on the ISS.

If there's a glimmer of hope, it's in the 'can-do' attitude among NASA and its workers, flush from their successes in 2006.

"We've got that momentum going," Parsons said.

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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