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As NASA struggles, Boeing, SpaceX, Lockheed compete; Military spaceflight funding eclipses NASA budget→

A cloudy vision of U.S. spaceflight

by Ralph Vartabedian and W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times

When the orbiter Atlantis lands at Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, ending the 30-year-old space shuttle program, NASA will have its sights set on the next big exploration mission: sending astronauts to an asteroid in about 15 years.

But the path to that goal remains poorly defined, jeopardized by a bleak budget outlook and a weak political consensus. It has left a deep angst that U.S. leadership in space flight is in rapid decline and the very ability to fly humans off the Earth is at risk.

"I’m very disappointed about where we are today," said Robert L. Crippen, who flew on the first space shuttle mission and went on to senior leadership jobs in both NASA and the aerospace industry. "NASA’s future is very fuzzy right now."

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2 notes   #nasa  #la times  #spaceflight  #boeing  #space  #science  #space shuttle  #spacex  #lockheed  #dragon capsule  #private spaceflight  #budget cuts    2:39pm 19/7/2011
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