Report gloomy on U.S. space program

June 23, 2005

With only weeks left before the planned re-launch of the space shuttle, experts see a dim future for the U.S. space program, citing funding and other problems.

"Current U.S. space policy presents a paradoxical picture of high ambition and diminishing commitment," the experts said in a paper released Thursday by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, Mass., reports The New York Times.

The authors are George Abbey, director of Houston's Johnson Space Center until 2001, and Neal Lane, the White House science adviser under President Bill Clinton.

The findings are based on a series of workshops with space companies and international agencies and other experts.

The report praised NASA's new Administrator Michael Griffin for his technical expertise and making changes in the management culture widely blamed for the loss of the shuttle Columbia two years ago. But the authors also said "current space policy is ill defined and its future path is uncertain."

NASA officials declined comment. However, Griffin recently strongly defended the Bush administration's space plans, the Times said.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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