The human cost of budget cuts

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sat Feb 1 08:40:06 MST 2003

Columbia shuttle breaks up over Texas
Seven astronauts aboard space shuttle
Saturday, February 1, 2003 Posted: 10:36 AM EST (1536 GMT)

JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, Houston, Texas (CNN) -- The space shuttle Columbia,
with seven astronauts aboard, broke up as it descended over central Texas
Saturday toward a planned landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Residents as far east as Shreveport, Louisiana, reported seeing and feeling
an apparent explosion.



Sunday Herald Sun(Melbourne), March 10, 2002, Sunday
NASA warned of safety risk

WASHINGTON: Cash-strapped NASA is so focused on immediate space shuttle
needs that long-term safety planning has suffered and the entire system is
at risk, a safety panel has warned.

"The panel's safety concerns have never been greater," the Aerospace Safety
Advisory Panel said yesterday. It said space shuttle safety had not yet
been compromised, but NASA had placed greater emphasis on operations "to
the apparent detriment of long-term planning".

"Unless appropriate steps to reduce future risk and increase reliability
are taken expeditiously, NASA may be forced to choose between two
unacceptable options -- operating at increased risk or grounding the fleet
until time-consuming improvements can be made," the panel said.

The advisory group, made up of former NASA officials and outside experts,
was formed by Congress after the 1967 Apollo spacecraft fire that killed
three astronauts.

The panel's annual report yesterday acknowledged the September 11 terrorist
attacks led to a shift in national priorities. That, and budget cuts, had
severely limited money available for reducing risks and extending the life
of NASA's four space shuttles.

With shuttle replacement at least a decade away, there were not enough
parts to support the ageing fleet, but some of the planned upgrades would
ease this shortfall, the panel said.

Last year, the panel made similar observations and recommended NASA, the
White House and Congress use longer, more realistic planning for the space

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