A year after the shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas, killing all seven astronauts, NASA has not figured out how to upgrade the three remaining shuttles to make them safe and usable for the next 15 years and possibly longer, the General Accounting Office said.
…”The shuttle will now be needed for another two decades,” the GAO report reads.
“Efforts to upgrade the shuttle have been stymied by the agency’s inability to develop a long-term strategic investment plan to fly the shuttle safely and a systematic approach for defining the spacecraft’s requirements because its life expectancy and mission have continued to change from an original design of a 10-year life to the year 2020 and possibly beyond.”
While the article includes two sentences on the new plan at the end, it is only to vaguely suggest the “hoax” theory…no reference is made at all to the fact that the new policy explicitly calls for the termination of Shuttle flights in 2010.
I don’t know who is out of the loop on this one, Reuters or GAO.
Jeff over at Space Politics went to the source, and explains that the report was actually completed in October 2003 and submitted to Congress on January 15…the day after the policy was announced, and too late to take it into account.