'08 NASA Missions Called Risky
Space agency pushing up against 2010 deadline
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Jan 6, 2008 11:32 AM CST
Space shuttle Atlantis sits on Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Thursday, Jan. 3, 2008, prior to a media teleconference in Houston to discuss the status of ongoing work to...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – 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.