WASHINGTON—Smaller payloads, alternative boosters and suborbital flights are making it possible for space scientists to carry out their experiments in the aftermath of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger one year ago this month.

NASA's billion-dollar budget for space science survived relatively unscathed for the current year, and officials are hopeful that the same will be true for fiscal 1988. But flight time, not money, is the biggest immediate problem for scientists, acknowledged John Holtz, assistant director of NASA's Astrophysics Division.

"We need these alternatives to support the PIs [principal investigators] due to the lack of flight opportunities in the wake of the down time and extensions in the [shuttle] manifest," Holtz said. The astronomy and physics programs received the majority of the funds for space science, $528 million in fiscal 1987, with planetary exploration receiving $374 million and the life sciences $70 million.

The space program relies heavily...

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