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NASA: Final shuttle flight delayed to February

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA's space shuttle program will keep going until next year.

The agency made it official yesterday after weeks of hints of launch delays: More time is needed to get the cargo ready for the final two shuttle flights. And a decision on a possible third - and really last - mission is off until at least next month.

Managers agreed to postpone the next-to-last shuttle launch until Nov. 1. Discovery had been scheduled to fly to the International Space Station with a load of supplies in September.

What currently would be the last mission now has a Feb. 26, 2011, launch date when Endeavour is to close out the 30-year shuttle program by delivering the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the space station. The particle physics detector is getting a makeover in Europe to ensure a longer working life. The work repeatedly has delayed the Endeavour flight, which initially was targeted for this month and then slipped to November.

NASA would like to fly Atlantis one more time, next June, before the fleet is retired. - AP


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