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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

NASA appears to no longer be shooting for the stars

• Ralph Vartabedian via Los Angeles Times
In a cavernous structure at NASA's Plum Brook Station near Lake Erie, a concrete chamber five stories high rises from the ground. Its walls are 2 feet thick to withstand the blast of powerful gas-operated horns strong enough to destroy human organs.

The $150-million facility was built to contain the next-generation manned spacecraft for the Constellation program, NASA's project to send humans back to the moon. It is the largest acoustic test chamber in the world, created to buffet the spacecraft with intense sound waves, simulating the stresses of launch.

The only problem is that the Constellation program almost certainly will be dead within months.

President Obama in January proposed cancelling the troubled moon program, and a key Senate committee voted this week to kill Constellation.

Despite the apparent kiss of death, construction continues at Plum Brook Station and other NASA centers and at private aerospace companies across the nation, where more than 14,000 people are still working on Constellation. Under pressure from Congress, NASA has been spending an average of about $9 million a day on the project.

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