First Shuttle Mission Since Columbia To Fly, All Down To
It's official: the Space Shuttle
Discovery is returning to space on May 15 with a seven person crew.
The date was announced on Friday by NASA's Associate Administrator
for Space Operations, Bill Readdy, in a conference call with
reporters. The next shuttle flight date was also announced for July
"The challenge right now is closure of an awful lot of paper.
The vehicle can't launch until all the paperwork is done," said
Readdy. "I know that sounds a little bit trivial, but documentation
of each and every thing we do is very important."
The special panel tasked with overseeing NASA's implementation
of the 2003 Columbia Accident review board recommendations
confirmed on Thursday that the agency has completed seven of the
fifteen recommendations, with one additional on a conditional
basis. The remaining recommendations will be considered during the
board's final meeting, scheduled to take place at the end of
"We have every expectation that we are going to close all of
them," Readdy said. "At this point, we don't see any
Plans have also been made to accelerate the launch of the next
mission as early as June 14 if an emergency situation develops on
the Discovery mission. In addition, supplies are being sent to the
International Space Station to fulfill a plan to provide emergency
shelter for shuttle crews if necessary.