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Scientific Worth

Scientific research has always been one of the main arguments for developing NASA's manned space flight program and the International Space Station. But as the future of the program comes under scrutiny in the wake of the Columbia disaster, critics argue that most of the work doesn't require humans at all. NPR's Joe Palca reports.

Copyright 2003 NPR

Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR. Since joining NPR in 1992, Palca has covered a range of science topics — everything from biomedical research to astronomy. He is currently focused on the eponymous series, "Joe's Big Idea." Stories in the series explore the minds and motivations of scientists and inventors. Palca is also the founder of NPR Scicommers – A science communication collective.