The success of this mission will enable NASA to resume the construction of the space station through 2010. The space shuttle fleet will then be retired. A final shuttle mission dedicated to the Hubble Space Telescope is expected to be announced in the fall for a 2007 launch.
Following the retirement of the space shuttle, NASA will debut the Crew Launch Vehicle (CEV) and the Ares I booster rocket in 2012. Plans to leave earth orbit for a return to the Moon in 2018 are in process. If successful in the management, technical aspects, and Congressional funding, the CEV will be the first human-rated spacecraft to leave Earth orbit in nearly fifty years!