NASA Space Shuttles

NASA's boss says it would be prohibitively expensive — and maybe too dangerous — to continue flying the space shuttles past next year's planned retirement date. Jim Bell reports.

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin told an industry group today that it's going to take at least five years to develop the next generation of space ships and bring them online, and flying the old shuttles for that long would cost at least three billion dollars a year — fifteen billion in all. 

He says the downside to grounding the shuttle is having to continue relying on Russia to get astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

President-elect Barack Obama has proposed delaying the shuttle's retirement and keeping it in use until it can be replaced in 2015.

To that Griffin says using ships already nearly three decades old and built with 1970s technology would extend the risk of another deadly accident.  

Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.