Several hours after the space shuttle Atlantis landed at the Kennedy Space Center, ending its last scheduled flight, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) officially announced he would try to seek one more flight for that orbiter. In a letter to President Obama, Nelson said he would seek to include language for that flight in the NASA authorization bill his subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee is currently drafting. Flying the extra mission would not only allow additional spare parts and other supplies to be flown to the station, it would also “allow us to more smoothly transition the workforce in Florida and Texas from the space shuttle program to the vision you’ve set for NASA’s future.” Nelson emphasized in the letter this would be the only additional shuttle flight he would seek: the summer 2011 mission “would mark the last flight of the space shuttle program.”
Nelson has been seeking to win another shuttle flight for NASA for some time. At the Kennedy Space Center earlier this month for the launch of Atlantis, he talked up the benefits of the additional mission to reporters. “I keep recommending it, and I will keep asking the White House to go ahead and do that,” he said. At the time he also said that his subcommittee hoped to markup a NASA authorization bill by the middle of June.