New Challenges in Space

Is the U.S. falling behind the competition?


Aseries of recent launch failures has rocked the U.S. space program, casting doubt on the nation's space prowess at a crucial time. Commercial launches are expected to surge early in the 21st century as companies deploy satellites for direct-to-home television, mobile phones, pagers and other communications equipment. The United States, once assured of a significant piece of the market, now faces intense global competition. Delays and technical problems could further erode market share and also delay the launch of military satellites for national security purposes. Congress is debating what to do -- and awaiting the results of a series of inquiries into the accidents.

A Titan IV rocket carrying a $700 million government spy satellite explodes 41 seconds after liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Aug. ...

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