NASA Won’t Repeat Brain Mission
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) _ NASA has decided not to repeat space shuttle Columbia’s just completed brain research mission.
Shuttle managers had considered sending the same astronauts and most of the same experiments back up in August to fill the launch gap created by the delay in space station construction. It would keep the launch team fresh, they reasoned, while supplying additional science data.
But NASA announced Tuesday it will not refly the mission.
``Our top priority is to get ready to launch the first elements of the international space station as soon as possible,″ said NASA spokeswoman Debra Rahn.
Shuttle program manager Tommy Holloway said Sunday the first U.S. flight to assemble the international space station will be no earlier than September and possibly as late as December or January. Endeavour had been scheduled to fly on that mission in July, but NASA delayed it because of Russia’s inability to launch a key station part by the end of this year.
Launching Columbia again in August would have given NASA less flexibility in the shuttle flight schedule, Rahn said. ``We don’t want to take away the option of flying station in September if we make that decision,″ she said.
Columbia returned Sunday from a 16-day laboratory mission that used astronauts and animals as neurological test subjects. Most of the baby rats and fish died unexpectedly in orbit.