SAN FRANCISCO—One year ago the U.S. space program came to an abrupt and shocking halt. As the remains of the Space Shuttle Challenger plummeted into the sea, an already tenuous and drifting Space and Earth Science Program reeled under the shock wave.

While NASA says none of its 22,800 employees worldwide have been laid off, the scientific programs, both at NASA facilities and elsewhere, have unquestionably been affected severely. Previous decisions to stretch out and delay flight projects threaten to shatter an already shaky budget. Prior to the Challenger loss, 50 science flights were planned for the period 1986-1992. Now only 17 are scheduled, with an average delay of more than three years each. The delays will cost more than $1 billion—money which will come from an annual budget of only $1.5 billion.

Can NASA's Space and Earth Science program survive in the post-Challenger era? In five interviews by freelance...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?