NASA, recovering from the four hurricanes that halted work at its Florida spaceport, said on Friday it has set a launch target in May, 2005, for the first space shuttle flight since the 2003 Columbia disaster. The launch schedule has slipped several times, and March had been the last target. But work days lost at the Kennedy Space Center put dates available in March and April out of reach, William Readdy, who heads human space flight programs at NASA, told reporters.
Two summer hurricanes delivered direct hits to the space center, scarring the mammoth Vehicle Assembly Building where the shuttle orbiters are mated to booster rockets and external fuel tanks. Two other storms missed the seaside launch complex but came close enough that workers had to take precautionary measures to protect the agency's three remaining shuttles. The latest launch window would run from May 12 to June 3, NASA said. Shuttle Atlantis' flight would be the first since Columbia disintegrated over Texas in February, 2003, killing all seven astronauts on board.
News source: Reuters