National | SPACE: After a disastrous 2003, NASA gets New Year's wish: a successful Mars landing
by Bob Jones
Posted 1/17/04, 12:00 am
For the rest of America, the New Year was already two days old. But for dozens of NASA scientists gathered in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 3, the old year-the bad year-was not yet fully in the past. The loss of the space shuttle Columbia, which disintegrated in mid-air on Feb. 1, 2003, had cast a pall over the entire space program. NASA desperately needed a big success to assure its own future, and that meant sticking the landing-on Mars.