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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jun 22, 2005 15:49:08 GMT -6
NASA chief says he can't promise space station's completion
WASHINGTON — The new chief of NASA on Tuesday threw further doubt on the future of the International Space Station, saying he couldn't promise that all the pieces needed to complete the orbiting laboratory would make it to space.
In an interview with USA TODAY, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said an agency team is still studying what the space station will ultimately look like. Until the team finishes its work this summer, he said, he couldn't be sure which pieces of the station might be left on the ground, including those already scheduled to fly on future shuttle missions.
"We're trying to develop a station plan," Griffin said. "We don't have it yet."
The space station, which now serves as a home to one Russian and one American, has been more than 20 years in the making. The United States and 15 other nations share the $100 billion cost, but the station has long generated controversy in the USA as its cost grew and its purpose changed. Congress nearly killed it in 1993.
Four planned shuttle flights are supposed to carry large pieces of the space station, including solar panels and scaffolding, into orbit. NASA has even announced crews for the four flights.
"I like that a space station is orbiting, but somehow I don't think that the ISS has a future."
When my cousin John Andelin of the now defunct OTA testified before Congress 20 years ago, he told the members that the proposed project would not amount to much and that the massive amount of money could be far more wisely spent on robotic spacecraft. He later confided to me that the public demands "man in space" despite the better understanding of the situation by scientists such as himself, so that is what politicians were willing to provide.