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NASA Delays Next-Generation Space Shuttle Program Till 2014

The space agency cites funding concerns for the four-year gap, as the Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavor shuttles are expected to retire in 2010.
NASA's next space shuttle won't launch until 2014, a year later than managers of the space agency initially hoped.

NASA announced a revised budget and schedule because of funding and technical concerns. The Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavor shuttles are expected to retire in 2010, after 10 more missions.

Astronauts will launch into space aboard new Orion capsules, powered by Ares I and Ares V rockets. They were officially scheduled for flight by March 2015, but NASA managers hoped to beat that deadline by two years.

"Since the program's inception, NASA has been working an aggressive plan to achieve flight capability before our March 2015 target," Rick Gilbrech, associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, said in an announcement. "We are still confident the Constellation Program will make its first flight to the International Space Station on or before that date. Our new path forward better aligns our project schedules with our existing funds to ensure we can address the unplanned challenges that always arise when developing a complex flight system."

The announcement of changes in plans for the Constellation Program came the same day the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel released its 2007 annual report, which stated concerns about funding for the Constellation Program.

"While there are still opportunities for improvement, the panel's finding concluded that NASA is making significant progress in improving safety issues during the past year," explained Joseph W. Dyer, advisory panel chairman. "The ASAP commends the Constellation Program for endorsing the recommendation of the ASAP and continuing to employ early hazard and risk analysis."