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NASA Names Crew For Shuttle Encore


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02.xml&headline=NASA Names Crew For Shuttle Encore&channel=spaceAviation Week And Space Technology/Mark Carreau :


NASA space operations chief Bill Gerstenmaier says that by January NASA will have made a final decision on whether shuttle Atlantis will fly an extra mission in June 2011.


Late Sept. 14, the agency announced that veteran commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim will train as the crew for STS-335, the “launch-on-need” (i.e., rescue) mission for STS-134.


The shuttle program’s final scheduled mission, STS-134 is tentatively set for liftoff on Feb. 26 aboard Endeavour with the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, an external astronomical observatory for the International Space Station and a six-astronaut crew.


However, station and shuttle program managers are eager to redesignate the currently unfunded rescue flight as STS-135, an operational mission to the orbiting science laboratory.


NASA’s 2011 budget is currently in congressional limbo, although the White House and the agency’s congressional oversight committees have expressed support for the encore mission, which has been assigned a June 28 launch date — even if drawing rescue duty. Nonetheless, NASA will likely experience the constraints of a continuing budget resolution beginning Oct. 1.


Continuing resolutions maintain federal spending but do not allow for additions or reductions to existing plans.


“We all think it’s the right thing to go do, but no one has really stood up and said go do it,” Gerstenmaier told a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council’s Space Operations Committee here Sept. 14. “By December/January we will have to decide. I’ll make a recommendation. We can only stay in limbo so long.”



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