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Friday, September 09, 2005

Future Shuttle Flight Dates Uncertain in Hurricane's Wake

The timing of NASA’s next shuttle launch remains uncertain as the space agency works to recover key facilities from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, agency officials said Thursday.

In addition to spreading widespread devastation across the Gulf Coast, Hurricane Katrina damaged NASA’s external tank-producing Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, as well as Stennis Space Center, where shuttle main engines are tested, in Mississippi.

While some NASA officials still hope to launch around March 2006, they were unable to complete a feasibility analysis for that target before the hurricane struck the Gulf Coast last week.

“We’re in the process of evaluating it,” William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for space operations, said of a possible spring launch during a teleconference with reporters.

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