Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison today introduced a Senate bill that would delay the Shuttle fleet's retirement beyond 2010, until NASA is confident it has a workable replacement for the Shuttle's mission, or the mission is no longer needed. The primary purpose is support of the International Space Station, and the implied time frame is through 2020.
The bill also adds $1,300,000,000 to NASA's Obama approved budget of $19,000,000,000 for next year. This money would allow NASA to fund two additional shuttle flights per year after 2010, as well as funds for development of its replacement.
Prospects for the bill's passage are uncertain. While Obama's NASA plans have been met with a cold reception in Congress, chances of keeping the shuttle flying and additional money for NASA is by no means a given. However, this is a good first step.
Besides ... like my posting about the Post Office ... this much money means nothing to Obama and his minions. Hell, there's $500,000,000,000 just sitting around not being used, right?