NASA is considering the launch of a Space Shuttle to retrieve the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS). The mission would use a Remote Manipulator System robot arm and require one EVA.

The GE Astro (now Lockheed Martin)-built 10.36m (34ft) long, 6,500kg (14,300lb) UARS was previously deployed by Space Shuttle STS 48 Discovery in September 1991.


It was used to conduct the first systematic, comprehensive and detailed investigation of the stratosphere, mesophere and lower thermosphere as part of a dedicated programme to monitor the Earth's environment.

UARS could either beserviced in space, fitted with new instruments and redeployed, or brought back to Earth. No firm decisions have yet been made.

Meanwhile, the Space Shuttle STS 109/Columbia Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission 3A has been delayed from November to January 2002 because of Columbia's late delivery to the Kennedy Space Center after its refurbishment by Boeing in California. The knock-on effect is to push the Columbia science mission, STS 107, to April 2002.

For now, Shuttle missions are aimed at International Space Station (ISS) work. STS 104/Atlantis is scheduled for launch on 14 June to deliver an airlock to the ISS. Next up will be STS 105/Discovery. Scheduled for 12 July, this will carry the third expedition crew to the ISS, and bring home the present crew.

There is then a hiatus until 29 November when STS 108/Endeavour undertakes a further crew switch.

Source: Flight International