Future roles

The Shuttle performed its long-awaited Return-to-Flight mission (STS-114) in the summer of 2005. Hopes were high for a full resumption of flight operations to complete the construction of the station before the Shuttle's retirement in 2010. However, in-flight incidents indicated that the problem of loose foam falling from the external tank had not been completely resolved and the Shuttle was further grounded until at least mid-2006. Soyuz TMA will remain the sole method of transporting crews to the station until the Shuttle is fully returned to flight-operational status. Until that time, NASA astronauts will continue to be termed science officers, but with the science programme restricted, just how much science is being completed, and is the designation of science officer simply another name for a scientist-astronaut?

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