Chris Bergin of NASASpaceflight.com posts a lengthy report on an attempt by British entrepreneur Kevin Holleran to gather billions in private funding to save Shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour from retirement. The shuttles would be restored to operating capacity and put in fully-funded commercial service no earlier than end 2014. The effort to assess the political, financial and engineering challenges involved was led by Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar, former Chief Scientist and Senior Program Manager for Boeing's Commercial Space Utilization Program, and Manager of the Flight Operations group on the International Space Station Program.
Although the plan to restore the Shuttles was ultimately unsuccessful, Holleran's "space-interested investment group" continues to be interested in launch vehicle development and operation:
"Despite the setback, Mr. Holleran added the group is now refocusing its efforts on a next generation vehicle, one which includes the numerous advantages of the Space Shuttle’s capabilities. This effort is now in work behind the scenes, ahead of an announcement next year into the outlines of the new system."
“This space interested investment group has now switched its focus to a next generation Space transportation vehicle with Shuttle capabilities,” added Mr. Holleran. “The group hopes to make announcements as to its intentions end of the first quarter of 2012.”