There has never been an international civil engineering fiasco quite like the International Space Station (ISS). Its estimated total cost of $95 billion is almost 10 times what it would take to build the Panama Canal today, yet its end is nowhere in sight. The ISS was scheduled to be completed by 2000, but its projected completion has slipped to 2006 and may slip further. NASA friends and foes alike are asking: What will it take to finish the project?

The scientists who can make the best use of the ISS are biologists like myself—a space biologist with experiments to fly on the completed ISS—who are interested in the long-term effects of microgravity on living organisms. For us the ISS as originally planned was going to be—and could still be—a stellar laboratory for studying the growth and development of organisms in space through several generations. The sort of work that...

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