Shuttle’s Return to Flight Pushed Back to Summer

The return to flight of the space shuttle will probably be pushed back to midsummer according to NASA officials; not March as they had originally anticipated. The delay is being caused by the complexity of implementing the safety recommendations of the Columbia accident investigation, which called for additional cameras, day launches, and redesigns to several shuttle components. When Atlantis finally does launch with only four astronauts, its only purpose will be to test out the new safety improvements. It will dock with the International Space Station and allow the astronauts to test methods for finding and repairing damage to the shuttle’s exterior.