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Spaced Out?48:22
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photoTwo-and-a-half-years ago, the space shuttle Columbia exploded on reentry, killing its seven crew members in a stark reminder of the dangers of space travel. NASA is scheduled to return to space with the July launch of its orbiter Discovery. But yesterday's announcements by an advisory panel were hardly the boost of confidence NASA was hoping for.

According to the board's findings, NASA still falls short on safety recommendations it agreed to fulfill before any of its shuttles are re-launched. NASA's troubled return to space has raised new doubts about the need for space exploration at all.

Landing on the moon was a top priority for the U.S. in the Cold War years. Today, NASA seems to lack a vision for the years ahead, and many are asking if space exploration has lost its appeal and if the risks and costs are worth it in a world troubled by a host of Earth-bound problems, both at home and abroad.

Hear a discussion on the future of NASA and its space exploration missions.

Guests:

Traci Watson, NASA reporter for USA Today ;
Andy Chaikin, science writer, author of "Man on the Moon";
Bruce Murray, former director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory;George Abbey, Senior Fellow in Space Policy at Rice University. From 1995 to 2001, he was director of the Johnson Space Center. He is also co-author of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences study "United States Space Policy: Challenges and Opportunities."

This program aired on June 28, 2005.

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