Nasa adds new shuttle flight – the final one for the fleet

Nasa does not yet know where it will get the money, but the space agency has added another shuttle launch to its schedule – the final one for the fleet.
The agency set a target launch date of June 28 for shuttle Atlantis and started preparations for the 135th and last shuttle flight.
The four-member crew will take up supplies to the International Space Station, make one spacewalk, and return a faulty pump that has bedevilled engineers.
Now three missions remain before Nasa retires its shuttle fleet this year. Shuttle Discovery’s last mission is planned for February 24, Endeavour’s in April.
The decision allows different parts of the shuttle programme to start work on Atlantis’ 12-day flight, including astronaut training and mission planning, Nasa spokesman Michael Curie said.
Originally Atlantis was planned as an emergency-only rescue mission if needed for the Endeavour crew.
Last year, the Obama administration and the US Congress clashed over the future of the human space programme and came up with a compromise that authorised one extra shuttle flight – the Atlantis mission. But congress never gave Nasa the few hundred million dollars needed for the extra flight, leaving the agency in a quandary about whether the flight was real or not.