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 writers Ray Spangenburg and Diane Moser, beginning on page 4, NASA scientists chosen for their diversity of location, experience and area of investigation reveal an uneasily shifting mood of hope and frustration, optimism and despair.