Obama Budget Pulls Plug on Moon-Travel Program

Project over budget and behind schedule, administration complains
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2010 3:45 PM CST
In a photo provided by NASA, NASA's Ares I-X rocket is seen on launch pad 39b at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Monday, Oct. 26, 2009.   (AP Phgoto/NASA/BILL INGALLS)
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(Newser) – The proposed federal budget would end NASA’s Constellation program, a Bush administration effort to return to the moon, along with the Ares rocket the agency had intended as a replacement for the space shuttles. President Obama's budget plan said the program “was over budget, behind schedule and lacking in innovation.” He proposes relying on private companies to eventually ferry astronauts when the shuttles are retired later this year.

Coincidentally, NASA today completed the launch tower for the Ares, reports the Orlando Sentinel. The platform cost $217 million of the $9 billion NASA has spent on the Constellation program, which a presidential commission concluded wouldn’t reach the moon until 2028. Republicans railed against the move; Richard Shelby said it “begins the death march” of US space flight. But the proposed budget does boost NASA’s budget overall, and extends the life of the space station until 2020.

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