Before the loss of Columbia during the STS-107 mission on February 1 2003, the International Space Station was scheduled to reach "Core Complete" status in February 2004. (Although this was increasingly unlikely at the time, and the Columbia Accident Investigation Board cited this schedule pressure as a contributing factor to the accident). The ISS Assembly Complete planned date at that time was likely a few years further on, perhaps 2005 (also increasingly unlikely).

That being said, were any shuttle manifests or plans ever published showing proposed utilization of the fleet after ISS Assembly Complete? Would the schedule have been reduced to two or three launches a year to rotate ISS crewmembers and refresh supplies? Or would the Orbiters have, in addition to ISS support, returned to launching other payloads?

I don't ever remember seeing this addressed, perhaps because before STS-107 the focus was solely on Core and Assembly Complete, and after STS-107 everything was thrown into Return to Flight and then Assembly complete. But surely NASA did some long range planning?


2 Answers 2


Not that I recall ever seeing!

This is a copy of the 2001 Consolidated Launch Manifest, which only goes out to 2006; it has two non-ISS flights, STS-107 and the fourth Hubble flight.

This list isn't an official document, but apparently compiled from various NASA sources. It was not updated after Columbia, so is probably a good snapshot of contemporary plans as at the start of 2003. Again, only the fourth Hubble flight other than ISS construction/utilization flights, but projected dates go out to 2009.

Neither seem to go beyond the end of construction, though...

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! This is the sort of projections I remember seeing around JSC. It may be that NASA didn't look past Assembly Complete, weird as that seems. $\endgroup$ Jan 12, 2016 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble not entirely unreasonable for them to put off developing detailed plans for something six years and two elections out, I suppose! $\endgroup$
    – Andrew
    Jan 12, 2016 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ I'm afraid the reason may be also "Because little more could be done with the Shuttle." Routine ISS supply/crew runs, satellite deliveries and repairs as need arises, and that's pretty much it. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Jan 13, 2016 at 7:02
  • $\begingroup$ Makes sense, because that's what STS was designed to do....A manifest contains specifics of the planned payloads, which is what I was looking for. $\endgroup$ Jan 14, 2016 at 4:17

In case anyone else is curious, I did find some information on this, in a document dated Jan 29, 2003, three days before the Columbia accident. It shows projected flights going out to STS-147 in late 2010. After assembly complete, most of the flights just are listed as "ISS flight" but some have the "crew rotation" nomenclature.

The last ISS assembly flight listed was STS-136 in Jan 2008. It was to carry up the cupola.

The only flights shown for Columbia after STS-107 are STS-118, an ISS flight in November 2003, and a Hubble servicing flight in November 2004. Then a huge gap until November 2009, with STS-144, which is listed as 'Hubble Retrieval' (!) Now that is interesting.

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  • $\begingroup$ Is it an online document? Can you provide us with a link? $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Apr 21, 2018 at 16:36
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Sean It's paper, but I updated the answer to include a scan. $\endgroup$ Apr 21, 2018 at 16:47

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