NASA Chief to KSC: Shuttles' End is Coming

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - New NASA administrator Mike Griffin, visiting Kennedy Space Center today, made it clear the shuttle would be replaced, and soon.

"I report to the president," he told journalists. "The president has said we're retiring the orbiter by 2010, and that's what we're doing."

The agency should have a transition plan ready by summer's end, he said, that would outline how much of the International Space Station might actually be finished by the time the shuttles are done.

As a replacement for the shuttles is built, some jobs inevitably will change at Kennedy Space Center, and some will be lost, he said.

"Not everyone will transition," he said. "One of the main issues with the orbiter is how much it takes to care and feed the fleet."

Griffin also spoke with employees, acknowledging that for some, the transition wouldn't be fun. "You enter a period where you need to watch out for yourself, and you need to look out for new opportunities."

The space program has to evolve, he said. His goal is to narrow the gap between the end of the shuttles and the launching of the next ship.

"If it takes more than five years, then it does," Griffin said. "It will take what it takes."

He said this was one of several visits he has made to KSC over the years while working with rockets and shuttle payloads, and it's "the greatest place in the world to be. Wish I could figure out a way to put NASA headquarters here."

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Chris Kridler
Contributing Writer

Chris Kridler is a writer, editor, photographer and storm chaser who authored a group of storm-chasing adventure novels called Storm Seekers. As a reporter covering space, her subjects have included space shuttle missions, the Mars Rovers from California’s Jet Propulsion Lab, and a Soyuz launch and mission from Kazakhstan and Russia. Much of that work was published through her longtime column at Florida Today. Her photographs have been featured in magazines and books, including the covers of The Journal of Meteorology, the book Winderful, and the Wallace and Hobbs Atmospheric Science textbook. She has also been featured in Popular Photography. Kridler started chasing tornadoes in 1997, and continues the adventure every spring in Tornado Alley.