NASA's Future

May 23, 2003 • Volume 13, Issue 20
Are the space agency's goals too modest?
By David Masci

Introduction

An artist's rendering shows a concept for an orbital space plane and three-booster launch vehicle being planned by Northrop Grumman and Orbital Sciences. NASA wants a space plane to provide two-way crew transport and crew-rescue capability for the international space station.  (Northrop Grumman Corp.)
An artist's rendering shows a concept for an orbital space plane and three-booster launch vehicle being planned by Northrop Grumman and Orbital Sciences. NASA wants a space plane to provide two-way crew transport and crew-rescue capability for the international space station. (Northrop Grumman Corp.)

The explosion that destroyed the space shuttle Columbia in February, killing all seven crewmembers, has temporarily halted shuttle flights. President Bush says manned space flight will go on. And in coming years NASA not only plans to continue flying the remaining shuttles but also to build a new orbital space plane to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. The wisdom of building a vehicle that only carries four to six crewmembers and no cargo, however, has drawn criticism. Moreover, many critics say NASA focuses on unexciting and unnecessary orbital missions when it should be planning cutting-edge expeditions to Mars and beyond. Meanwhile, the Columbia tragedy has renewed criticism that the space agency is not focused enough on safety and that its decision-making processes are flawed.

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Feb. 24, 2012  Space Program
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May 23, 2003  NASA's Future
Jul. 23, 1999  New Challenges in Space
Apr. 25, 1997  Space Program's Future
Dec. 24, 1993  Space Program's Future
Mar. 29, 1991  Uncertain Future for Man in Space
Jul. 31, 1987  Space Race
Feb. 07, 1986  Space Decisions after Challenger
Feb. 18, 1983  American Options in Space
Nov. 10, 1978  Changing U.S. Space Policy
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Mar. 15, 1972  Space Shuttle Controversy
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Nov. 13, 1968  Goals in Space
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May 08, 1963  Moon Race Controversy
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Nov. 01, 1961  Space Exploration
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Feb. 19, 1958  Control of Outer Space
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