As the Space Shuttle Era Ends, What's Next for NASA?
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After 30 years and an investment of some $200 billion, the Space Shuttle Program ended this morning when Atlantis touched down at Cape Canaveral. As one era of space exploration comes to an end, what's in store for the next one? Also, states are making plans for a federal default, and disputes about rural airports and anti-union measures have required 19 stop-gap funding extensions for the Federal Aviation Administration. Can Congress agree on a twentieth by tomorrow's deadline?
Banner image: Space shuttle Atlantis lands for the final time at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
States Making Plans for Federal Default ()
Prospects for resolving the debt-ceiling crisis are changing day-by-day — almost hour-by-hour. In the meantime, the 50 states, many with budget problems of their own, are bracing for a federal default. Kil Huh is Research Director at the Pew Center on the States.
- Kil Huh: Pew Center on the States
As the Space Shuttle Era Ends, What's Next for NASA? ()
The Shuttle Atlantis touched down at 5:57 this morning East Coast Time: the last of 135 shuttle missions carrying 330 astronauts, 14 of whom lost their lives. NASA has plans for a big new rocket, but American astronauts will ride vehicles made by the private sector and other countries, at least for the next few years. We get a report from Cape Canaveral and talk with a veteran astronaut and others about America's future in space.
- Irene Klotz: freelance science and aerospace writer
- Bobby Braun: NASA
- Garrett Reisman: SpaceX
- Jonathan McDowell: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, @planet4589
Congressional Stand-off on FAA Funding Bill ()
The Federal Aviation Administration may face a partial shutdown on Friday. Nineteen stop-gap funding extensions already have been required, but a twentieth has yet to be agreed on. House Republicans and Senate Democrats are accusing each other of refusing to negotiate about the FAA. Industry spokesmen say funding delays are jeopardizing airport expansion and modernization, and threatening jobs and economic activity. Ben Mutzabaugh, travel reporter for USA Today, says the FAA might have to furlough 4000 workers if there's no agreement tomorrow.
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