DarkNemesis618 writes: A U.S. Representative has proposed that NASA keep the shuttle fleet flying past its 2010 retirement date. The move would help prevent NASA from relying on Russian rockets during the gap between the Space Shuttle retirement and the start of the Orion program. One proposal would keep the shuttle fleet flying from 2010 to 2013 while another would keep the fleet alive until the Orion program is ready in about 2015. In 2011, the exemption that has allowed NASA to purchase Soyuz rockets for trips to the Space Station ends, and they would need an extension to keep using Russian rockets until the Orion program is ready. NASA's other option lies in the private sector, but so far, the private sector's progress does not look like it will meet the 2011 deadline. Keeping the shuttle fleet flying for a couple more years seems like it would help keep American presence in space without having to rely on the Russian space program.