Space Flights Seen as Costing Lives

From Associated Press

A space shuttle will be lost and astronauts may well die within the next decade if the United States carries out its vision of exploring the universe, Congress was warned in a report released Wednesday.

“If the United States wishes to send people into space on a routine basis, the nation will have to accept the risks these activities entail,” said the study by the congressional Office of Technology Assessment. “If such risks are perceived to be too high, the nation may decide to reduce its emphasis on placing humans in space.”

The price of increased space activity includes “the likelihood that loss of life will occur,” the report said.

The OTA report, called “Round Trip to Orbit: Human Space Flight Alternatives,” examines some of the policy choices Congress faces in decisions for this century and the next. The OTA said NASA could reduce some of the risks by building a fifth orbiter, at a cost of $2.5 billion, including spare parts.