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Dawn of the latest space agePosted Monday, October 1, 2007, at 8:56 AM
Meet Dawn. Not a woman, this Dawn is a spacecraft sent by NASA to study an asteroid and dwarf planet between Mars and Jupiter.
The goal: Find information on the early solar system. The timetable: Dawn won't reach the asteroid until 2011 and the dwarf planet until 2015.
The cost: At least $449 million at least and possibly up to $474 million, NASA officials say.
The bottom line: Is it worth it?
The Dawn mission is relatively cheap compared to many government programs. But could that money be used better for earthlings, such as the always-needy, those who would benefit from government-funded medical research, or still-recovering Katrina victims?
And is the space program, although interesting and a sign of America's scientific expertise, ultimately something that should be turned over to private firms (as if there were some way to make a profit...) or dropped entirely?
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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.
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