NASA To Return To Shuttle Missions On May 15
Since the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster over two years ago, NASA has grounded their space shuttle missions. However, the agency appears to be on track to reintroduce shuttle flights to NASA operations.
On May 15 2005, NASA is scheduled to launch the Space Shuttle Discovery, the first since the Columbia tragedy. According to CNN, Eileen Collins will command the mission, which will consist of 7 crewmembers.
The mission for Discovery and her crew will be to rendezvous with the International Space Station, in part to demonstrate the vehicle’s safety.
In addition, NASA imposed its own restrictions, including limiting launches to daylight hours — at least for the first two test flights — so that any falling debris from the external tank could be seen and investigated before the shuttle tried to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere. NASA will also require the first two shuttles to go to the international space station so that if there were irreparable damage, the astronauts could wait there for another shuttle to get them.
Because of these restrictions there are only a limited number of opportunities to launch the space shuttle. The first starts May 15 and runs through June 3, when NASA hopes to launch Discovery. The second window opens July 12, when NASA hopes to launch Atlantis.
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