Space Program's Future

April 25, 1997 • Volume 7, Issue 16
Is NASA putting safety at risk to cut costs?
By Mary H. Cooper

Introduction

Like a giant mosquito, the Russianspace station MIR stand out against the darkness of space and Earth'scloud-covered horizon as it prepares to rendezvous with the U.S. spaceshuttle Discovery.  (Photo Credit: NationalAeronautics and Space Administration photograph)
Like a giant mosquito, the Russianspace station MIR stand out against the darkness of space and Earth'scloud-covered horizon as it prepares to rendezvous with the U.S. spaceshuttle Discovery.  (Photo Credit: NationalAeronautics and Space Administration photograph)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was plagued by cost overruns, lengthy program delays and weak public support when Daniel Goldin tookover NASA in 1992. Goldin set out to expand the agency's space missions while reducing its overall budget. Thanks to such recent achievements as the joint U.S.-Russian mission aboard the Mir space station and the discovery of evidence of primitive life forms on Mars, public support for space missions seems to be on the upswing. But the Russian government's failure to fund its share of the International SpaceStation has put a cloud over the space program. Moreover, some critics say NASA's cost-cutting strategy is compromising human flight safety as well as robotic missions.

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