Feature

Shuttle program questioned

The week's news at a glance.

Washington, D.C.

A growing chorus of critics is calling for NASA to ground the space shuttle fleet, The Washington Post reported this week. The board investigating the Columbia disaster is studying whether parts of the shuttle had worn out with age, and contributed to the string of failures that caused the craft to break up, killing seven astronauts. “We ought to scrap the program,” said Rep. Joe Barton, a member of the House Science Committee. The shuttles have been flying for 20 years. They were supposed to have been retired early this century, but NASA failed to build a craft to replace them. So the space agency decided to keep the three remaining shuttles in use until 2012 or later, because there was no other way to build and maintain the $100 billion International Space Station.

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