Jan 27 2010
NASA’s plans to return astronauts to the moon are dead. So are the rockets being designed to take them there — that is, if President Barack Obama gets his way. He would rather spend the money on projects for monitoring CLIMATE CHANGE.
Maybe this is payback for losing the ‘Kennedy’ seat in Massachusetts?
When the White House releases his budget proposal Monday, there will be no money for the Constellation program that was supposed to return humans to the moon by 2020. The Ares I rocket that was to replace the space shuttle to ferry humans to space will be gone, along with money for its bigger brother, the Ares V cargo rocket that was to launch the fuel and supplies needed to take humans back to the moon.
There will be no lunar landers, no moon bases, no Constellation program at all. Instead, the White House will direct NASA to concentrate on Earth-science projects — principally, researching and monitoring climate change — and on a new technology research and development program that will one day make human exploration of asteroids and the inner solar system possible.
There will also be funding for private companies to develop capsules and rockets that can be used as space taxis to take astronauts on fixed-price contracts to and from the International Space Station — a major change in the way the agency has done business for the past 50 years.
The White House budget request, which is certain to meet fierce resistance in Congress, scraps the Bush administration’s Vision for Space Exploration and signals a major reorientation of NASA, especially in the area of human spaceflight.
“We certainly don’t need to go back to the moon,” said one administration official.
Few doubt that a fight is looming. In order to finance new science and technology programs and find money for commercial rockets, Obama will be killing off programs that have created jobs in some powerful constituencies, including the Marshall Space Flight Center in Shelby’s Alabama. But the White House is said to be ready for a fight.