NASA is speeding up its space shuttle flight schedule to meet the 2010 deadline for the completion of the International Space Station. This year alone, the space agency will launch six missions—twice the number of the last two years—and some experts worry that the crunch is a recipe for a Columbia-like disaster. "Something has to give," one told the Washington Post.
Atlantis is already behind schedule due to electrical malfunctions. NASA implemented a litany of new safety procedures in the wake of the Columbia fiasco in 2003, but the 27-year-old shuttle fleet—set to retire in 2010—remain unpredictable, highly complex spacecraft. "Every time we launch a shuttle, we risk the future of the human space flight program," said one analyst.