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NASA to fly new space shuttle in 2014

The space ship that will return astronauts to the Moon should be ready for tests in 2012 and for a manned flight in 2014.

india Updated: Jun 06, 2006 10:26 IST

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 has announced.

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 programme that commences in 2012," said Jeff Hanley, director of Constellation, a programme 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 on Monday.

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 was 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 programme tasks to 10 of its centres, from Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launching.