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US Astronauts To Fly New Space Ship By 2014

File photo: A mock Crew Exploration Vehicle.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Jun 07, 2006
The space ship that will return astronauts to the Moon should be ready for tests in 2012 and for a manned flight in 2014, NASA announced Monday.

NASA plans to retire its aging shuttle fleet, which has gone through two tragic disasters, by 2010 and replace it with a Crew Exploration Vehicle to take astronauts back to the Moon by 2020.

"Our plan calls for first human flight of CEV in 2014, preceding that, is a flight test program that commences in 2012," said Jeff Hanley, director of Constellation, a program to prepare NASA for a return to the Moon as a stepping stone to Mars.

"We are studying right now a developmental flight test where we could fly as early as April 2009 ... a first stage with a dummy upper stage, with a dummy CEV on top, to validate the concept," he said.

A final decision will be made later this year, he said.

"We are confident we can meet the goal of the vision to get human boots back on the Moon by 2020."

NASA administrator Michael Griffin said it is "way too early" to write a complete budget.

He stressed the need to find a way to return to the Moon that is "enormously cheaper than the shuttle."

The current shuttle fleet has taken parts to the International Space Station but has never been used as transport to the Moon.

NASA has assigned program tasks to 10 of its centers, from Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launching.

The Glenn Research Center in Ohio, despite recent staffing cuts, will be in charge of developing the vehicle.

The United States first landed on the moon in 1969 and most recently landed in 1972.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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