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Off the News

For Friday, July 22, 2011

LAST UPDATED: 2:23 p.m. HST, Aug 5, 2011

No hana hou for shuttle program

After 30 years that saw much triumph and some tragedy, America's space shuttle era has ended.

Atlantis, the final shuttle, touched down safely in the dark of morning yesterday at Cape Canaveral, Fla., and is now museum-bound along with two other surviving shuttles in the fleet.

Hawaii's own connection to the program was most severely felt in 1986, when the shuttle Challenger exploded soon after lift-off, killing Hawaii's own Ellison Onizuka and six other astronauts aboard. But the program rebounded with lessons learned, and in total, the fleet would fly 542 million miles, circle Earth 21,152 times and carry 355 people from 16 countries into space.

Even this final voyage held a Hawaii connection: Atlantis carried research equipment developed by Honolulu-based Tissue Genesis Inc. to study how adult stem cells interact with other cells in near-zero gravity. Scientists hope the research might lead to treatments to help astronauts recover from ill effects of space travel.

Who needs an East-West Center?

A U.S. House committee on Wednesday voted to repeal the 1960 law that established the East-West Center, raising the question: Do we really need it?

Yes. For 50 years, the center has been forging stronger political, cultural and economic ties with key policymakers in the Asia-Pacific region, where the world's fastest-growing and most influential economies are located.

Still, what's in it for us?

Go to and click on the link, "Trade with Asia Creates Jobs in the U.S." And stay tuned on what happens next in D.C.

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