Space: July 25, 2002


Military Space- NASA has found cracks in the fuel lines that carry hydrogen from the huge belly tank to the main engines in three of the four space shuttles. It will take 56 days (minimum) to repair each shuttle. Columbia and Atlantis are temporarily grounded, but could be flying by the end of the year. NASA's trial balloon on privatizing the space shuttle apparently had a high content of lead. The problem is the depressed satellite launch market, which doesn't leave a potential private buyer with enough income to make the deal pay. At least, the space station budget (for a limited three-man station able to do only minimal science missions) seems workable with only a minor increase. The National Research Council has named Pluto as the highest priority for exploration after Mars. Meanwhile, China continues to train its new astronaut corps in secret for manned flights that could start by next year.--Stephen V Cole


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