NASA Continues Work on New Craft to Replace Space Shuttles

Huntsville, Alabama-AP -- As an army of officials try to discover what caused space shuttle "Columbia" to break up during re-entry, a team in Alabama is designing the shuttle's successor.

The head of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama says designers "are working on the next generation and the generation after that."

Director Art Stephenson says he told workers to stay busy on the project despite grief over the Columbia's loss.

The center is in charge of building an orbital space plane to get astronauts to the space station. They're also trying to create new launch technology for people and equipment.

A manned spaceflight advocate says NASA seems to have lost ground due to tight budgets and falling public appetite for spaceflight.

The official at the National Space Society says it's been so long since the shuttle was designed that "there's a lack of training."

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