October 23, 2003

More NASA controversy

(excerpted from this article)

NASA's decision to launch a fresh two-man crew to the International Space Station last weekend came over the strenuous objections of mid-level scientists and physicians who warned that deteriorating medical equipment and air and water monitoring devices aboard the orbiting laboratory posed increasing safety risks for the crew, according to space agency documents and interviews.

There is a history of tension over health issues between conservative medical personnel, on one side, and engineers and astronauts eager to fly, on the other, NASA insiders say. However, in what some medical personnel described this week as a chilling echo of the decision-making leading up to the Columbia space shuttle disaster, arguments in favor of scrubbing the latest crew replacement mission and temporarily shuttering the space station were overruled by managers concerned with keeping the facility occupied.

When the shuttles were grounded after the Columbia accident, the facility lost its major supply line and left NASA heavily dependent on the Russians and other partners to keep the space station operating. The Russian spacecraft, however, can transport only a small fraction of the cargo and equipment that the shuttles can. As a result, construction of the incomplete space station is at a standstill, and the customary three-person crews have been replaced with caretaker crews of two, who now spend much of their time doing maintenance and a minimal amount doing scientific research.

Posted by Ted at October 23, 2003 07:21 AM
Category: Space Program

What are some of the main problems with the nasa space program today?

Posted by: amber at January 11, 2005 01:21 PM

Amber, to my mind, it's the mindset that only government can do space, and only if there's absolutely no risk. The spirit of adventure was lost after Apollo, and they became a transportation company. Into orbit with the shuttle, yes, but still the emphasis became very much the same as Greyhound.

That's why SpaceShipOne and the emergence of China's space program are such big deals. They will hopefully spur NASA back into it's "go get 'em" attitude.

Posted by: Ted at January 11, 2005 06:55 PM
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