NASA chief Michael Griffin now says that the last 30 years of the space program, which has focused on the space shuttle, with the idea of militarizing space, has been a mistake which has held us back from what should have been our real goal of space exploration.
Traci Watson writes in USA Today that Griffin admits that NASA began to go in the wrong direction in the 1970s by focusing on the ISS space station, which can only orbit the Earth. We still do not have the capability to visit other planets.
The space shuttle was part of the Star Wars programpromoted by the late President Reagan. The first shuttle flight took place in 1982 but the overall Star Wars anti-missile system he promoted is still not in place. TheISS is still not completed, but since the explosion of the shuttle Challenger in 1986, which took the lives of 7 astronauts, few shuttles have flown to it. To reach the ISS, US astronauts have been hitching a ride on Russian spacecraft. The Russian space station has finally been junked.
NASA aims to send astronauts back to the moon in 2018 in a much smaller spacecraft than the shuttle, that looks much more like the original Apollo space capsule. While the reason behind this voyage will be announced as space exploration, the real motive is the impending oil crisis. The shuttle program will be retired in 2010. Space.com reports that NASA technicians are working to overhaul the shuttle Endeavour, which was built to replace the Challenger, so that it can be launched again. It has undergone 124 safety modifications, and they plan to do pre-flight testing on it soon.
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