Space shuttle program officially ends Aug. 31

CBS News

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL--NASA's space shuttle program will officially end on Aug. 31, officials said Friday, less than a month and a half after Atlantis landed to close out the agency's 135th and final shuttle mission. From that date forward, the Space Shuttle Transition and Retirement Office will oversee final post-flight processing and work to ready NASA's three space shuttles for museum display.

Engineers remove the shuttle Atlantis' forward reaction control system rocket pod during post-flight processing at the Kennedy Space Center. Atlantis eventually will be displayed at the spaceport's visitor complex. (Credit: NASA)
"I would like to personally thank the team for your tremendous dedication and skill," shuttle Program Manager John Shannon, told agency managers in a letter dated Aug. 16. "Your performance allowed the Space Shuttle to safely and successfully fly out the manifest, providing a strong finish to 30 years of operations."

Effective Aug. 31, Shannon said, the shuttle program "will transition to the Space Shuttle Transition and Retirement Office under the leadership of Ms. Dorothy S. Rasco. Please update the appropriate distribution lists."

"All activities currently in progress by the Space Shuttle Program and the program boards will transition to the board structure of the Space Shuttle Transition and Retirement Office on August 31, 2011," Shannon wrote. "This includes Program Requirements Control Board actions, performance evaluation boards, program manager reviews, etc."

The letter said remaining shuttle workers should begin charging their time to the retirement and transition office beginning Sept. 1.

The shuttle Discovery, NASA's senior orbiter, completed its final flight in March. It is being prepared for display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington. The shuttle Endeavour, which completed its last flight June 1, eventually will be displayed at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The Atlantis, which landed at the Kennedy Space Center on July 21, will be displayed at the Florida spaceport's visitor center.