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Wed, Apr 20, 2005

Shuttle Launch Return To Flight Postponed

Discovery's Delayed Until At Least May 22nd

NASA Wednesday delayed the space shuttles' return to flight for at least a week, saying the space agency needs more time to go over safety changes made in the two years since the Columbia accident.

The decision came after almost two days of meetings at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, as shuttle managers reviewed the amount of work needed to get both Discovery and the rescue ship, Atlantis, ready for the mission.

The delay is not outside NASA's launch window for the Return To Flight mission -- between May 15th and June 3rd. Because of safety restrictions recommended by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) -- and accepted by NASA -- the next launch window after June 3rd runs between July 12th and 31st.

"We just were not ready to do a flight readiness review next week," shuttle program manager Bill Parsons told Florida Today.

While Parsons said preparations for both orbiters remains on schedule, there are still issues remaining -- many of them involving mountains of paperwork.

"We will launch when we are ready to launch and not before," said Wayne Hale, deputy manager of the shuttle program, who was also quoted by Florida Today. 

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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