Putting the Future on Hold

The CHALLENGER explosion will set back the entire space program

The first reaction was shock, horror, grief. The second, and almost reflexive, response by public officials to the Challenger catastrophe was determination to push on with an ambitious program of manned space flights. Thus President Reagan, speaking to the nation within hours of the tragedy, pledged, "We'll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and, yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space." Next day William Graham, NASA's acting administrator, asserted that "the space shuttle is our principal space transportation system; it will remain our principal space transportation system for the foreseeable...

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