Monday, December 7, 2009

Counting down to who will land a retired shuttle

20 agencies show interest, but NASA says it’s in ‘a holding pattern’

With space shuttles still launching and landing, NASA isn't perceptive to talk about what will happen to the iconic vehicles after they're retired.
The competition among institutions to land a space shuttle for public display is heating up.
Last December, NASA issued a “request for information” to educational institutions, science museums and other organizations about their concern in acquiring a space shuttle. The space agency calculated it would cost about $42 million to prepare the vehicle and deliver it via a modified 747 Boeing aircraft carrier.
About 20 institutions ,including a group of bidders led by Space Center Houston — responded. Since then, the space agency has been mum.
“We're still in a holding pattern,” said Robert Pearlman, editor of a Web site for space history enthusiasts)“I don't think anyone in the program actually desires to talk about withdrawing the orbiters while they are still flying them.”
With the recent safe return of space shuttle Atlantis to Kennedy Space Center, NASA now has 5 shuttle missions scheduled during the next year before it retires the vehicles.
The retirement date could be extended by President Barack Obama, who is anticipated to decide on the future of NASA's human spaceflight program during the next few months, but the shuttle's end is coming.


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