Americans and millions of others around the world are mourning the deaths of seven brave astronauts under circumstances few people can even imagine. Though the specific causes of the Columbia tragedy won-t be known for months, this weekend-s disaster has put the NASA space program under a microscope. Some critics complain that the shuttle and space station only exist to support each other, along with contractors in almost every Congressional district. We look at some of the lessons that might be learned-about science, human safety, the risks of complex technology-with a NASA veteran of space science and an expert on the economics of military spending (This segment is an abbreviated edition of To the Point
, broadcast earlier today.)
- Making News: Palmdale Mayor Mourns Shuttle Disaster
It-s been almost a year since NASA, in an effort to save money, moved its space shuttle repair program out of Palmdale to Cape Canaveral, Florida. Still, this weekend-s tragedy is deeply felt in the town that grew up with the space program and was the birthplace to four spacecraft-including the shuttle Columbia, completed in 1979. Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford, who worked in the aerospace industry for 13 years, talks about pride, space projects, and his community-s curiosity about the causes of the Columbia tragedy.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)