Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says it’s time for NASA to scuttle the space shuttle program. “It seems like we’ve just got some enduring problems with this shuttle,” Harkin says. “I’ve never been a big fan of the shuttle anyway.” Harkin says 25 years ago when he served on the Science and Technology Committee he questioned the wisdom of the shuttle program. “I always thought it was sort of the brainchild of pilots who wanted something to fly but it never really had a real purpose,” Harkin says. “I think we’ve wasted a lot of money on this shuttle and I don’t know that it’s ever really gotten us anything.” Harkin agrees with NASA’s decision to ground future shuttle launches until the problem of flaking foam falling from the fuel tank — and potentially damaging the outside tiles on the shuttle — is fixed.”Now I am hopeful that we have a safe return of this shuttle,” Harkin says. “I know they’ve docked now with the space station and that will give them the wherewithal to go out and examine and make sure that everything’s O.K. I hope and trust that it will be.” Harkin, though, would be happy to see this be the last shuttle mission. “It’s time to move out of low-Earth orbit and shuttles and move into something else,” Harkin says. “The shuttle can’t get you there.” Harkin supports unmanned space flights because he says they can go longer and further. He opposes a manned mission to Mars because Harkin says federal taxdollars “could be better utilized.”
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