Some key quotes:
But NASA dismisses such helpful suggetions as unworthy of its mission of 'exploration', likening critics of manned space flight to those Europeans in the 1500's who would have cancelled the great voyages of discovery rather than face the loss of one more ship.
Of course, the great explorers of the 1500's did not sail endlessly back and forth a hundred miles off the coast of Portugal, nor did they construct a massive artificial island they could repair to if their boat sprang a leak.
The Soviet Shuttle, the Buran (snowstorm) was an aerodynamic clone of the American orbiter, but incorporated many original features that had been considered and rejected for the American program, such as all-liquid rocket boosters, jet engines, ejection seats and an unmanned flight capability. You know you're in trouble when the Russians are adding safety features to your design.
And another link that was a bit disheartening:
Cosmic rays may prevent long-haul space travel.
And a list of other links just because they're interesting (about the new "planet" discovered at the edge of our solar system):
Distant object found orbiting Sun.
Much ado about Pluto.
Java applet visualizing the orbit of 2003 EL61. (took a minute or two to load on my computer)
Technorati Tags / Mars / Space Shuttle / Manned Space Exploration / The Internation Space Station / Space Travel / Pluto / 2003 EL61