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Space station Mir is dropping from the sky, and the International Space Station is taking its place – but there’s a problem in mission control.

Some say the United States space program stumbled into obscurity as soon as Neil Armstrong took his second lunar step. The Cold War space race is over, circling the moon is old hat – so how many trips does it take to know that staying in space costs muscle mass, bone density – and billions of dollars? Despite stated goals of exploring Mars and experimenting amongst the stars — in the galaxy of Purpose, NASA itself may be orbiting in a vacuum. The latest attempts to make ships and probes cheaper, more durable and quicker to the launch-pad – prove that extra-atmospheric travel remains rocket science.

Is the final frontier finished? Or is mankind just gearing up for the next giant leap? The United States in space – 2001 and beyond, here.
(Hosted by Judy Swallow)


Lawrence Young, MIT professor and director of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute

Pat Duggins, NPR’s man at the launches.