April 10, 2006
Space Shuttle Program's Future
Looking for more information on the Shuttle Program? Try:
NASA’s Space Shuttle Program: The Columbia Tragedy, the Discovery Mission, and the Future of the Shuttle (in PDF)
Marcia S. Smith - Resources, Science, and Industry Division
Updated January 4, 2006
On August 9, 2005, the space shuttle Discovery successfully completed the first of two “Return to Flight” (RTF) missions — STS-114. It was the first shuttle launch since the February 1, 2003, Columbia tragedy. NASA announced on July 27, 2005, the day after STS-114’s launch, that a second RTF mission would be indefinitely postponed because of a problem that occurred during Discovery’s launch that is similar to what led to the loss of Columbia. The next launch is currently expected some time in 2006. This report discusses the Columbia tragedy, the Discovery mission, and issues for Congress regarding the future of the shuttle.