If the weather conditions are right, the space shuttle Atlantis will take off Friday morning from Cape Canaveral, Florida. A crew of four will man what marks the 135th and final mission for the space program.
During these tough economic times NASA, now headed by Columbia native and former astronaut Charles Bolden, faces an uncertain future. Many now view the space program as a luxury that can no longer be afforded. One person who is confident in the future exploration of space is Cheryl McNair, the widow of Lake City native Ronald McNair. Ronald McNair died with six others in the Challenger disaster 25 years ago.
In an interview with MSNBC Wednesday, McNair said her late husband, who was a physicist, saw the many benefits associated with space exploration.
“He would believe in continuing space exploration, human exploration, in the sense of more job opportunities, perhaps in the commercialization that has been proposed, as well as deep space exploration with the government,” Cheryl McNair said.
The 35 year shuttle program cost the country nearly $200 billion. 14 astronauts lost their lives during two separate shuttle mission disasters.
Cheryl McNair says she believes space stations will continue, along with deep space exploration in the future that will work to satisfy man’s appetite for knowledge and discovery.
I believe that there are still discoveries and things to learn from space exploration. I believe the United States will continue with their inventions and connections with those innovations to make things better here on Earth. I look forward to the future. I look forward to what the United States will do in deep space and the continuation of more developments and more innovation.
There are plans for NASA to partner with the Russian space program to continue sending American astronauts into space. Also, the agency will aid in the development of a privately-run space shuttle industry.