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NASA's Big Space Dreams Stumble on Cash Deficit

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  • Joe (uk-ufo) McGonagle
    From www.redorbit.com http://tinyurl.com/a52vp NASA s Big Space Dreams Stumble on Cash Deficit By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- Nearly two years ago,
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 6 9:56 AM
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      From www.redorbit.com

      NASA's Big Space Dreams Stumble on Cash Deficit
      By Irene Klotz

      CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- Nearly two years ago, President George
      W. Bush told NASA to help finish the International Space Station,
      return to the moon and then prepare for a manned space flight to

      But that vision is crumbling as the U.S. space agency realizes it
      does not have the money it needs for the job.

      NASA Administrator Michael Griffin revealed this week the agency
      faced a $3 billion to $5 billion shortfall in its space shuttle
      program alone over the next five years. Some members of the U.S.
      Congress say the deficit will actually be closer to $6 billion.

      In addition to the troubled shuttle program, NASA has pledged to
      help finish the International Space Station by transporting heavy
      components for it on the shuttles, and to develop a new launch
      vehicle and spacecraft to take astronauts to the moon and
      eventually to Mars.

      Yet, a storage hangar at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is
      overflowing with space station modules and building trusses
      waiting for shuttle rides to orbit.

      The three-ship shuttle fleet, which faces retirement in 2010,
      remains at least six months away from another flight, following a
      second round of safety upgrades stemming from the 2003 Columbia

      Research programs aboard the space station have slowed to a
      trickle, while dozens of projects have been canceled outright as
      NASA scrambles to save funds.

      Without a significant increase in spending, Griffin has met
      Bush's vision of space exploration with a plan aimed at just one
      goal -- landing astronauts on the moon by 2020.

      DEJA VU

      "The story that's emerging is something like what we had back in
      1969 through '72, when we started with this grand vision, but the
      product that resulted is very compromised," said Howard McCurdy,
      a space history and public policy professor at American

      Thirty-six years ago, NASA was fighting for a Mars mission, a
      space station and a shuttle to ferry crews and cargo from Earth
      to space. It ended up with only the shuttle.

      "What's happening now is that a lot of the technology and
      research to go to Mars are being put off for the purpose of
      getting to the moon, which was just supposed to have been a
      training ground for Mars. The means is becoming the end," McCurdy

      U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon, a Tennessee Democrat and a senior member
      of the House Science Committee, voiced a similar concern during a
      hearing on Thursday in which the panel quizzed Griffin on what
      had been happening at NASA.

      "Should simply getting to the moon under the administration's
      timetable be the nation's goal?" Gordon asked.

      "I am very concerned that this administration may not be willing
      to pay for the vision that it presented to the nation 21 months
      ago. And I fear that the approach being taken ... may make it
      very difficult to sustain the initiative beyond 2008," Gordon

      NASA plans to salvage as much money from existing programs as
      possible to pay for the development of a new spacecraft, but it
      will not be enough, Griffin said.

      "NASA simply cannot afford to do everything on our plate today,"
      he said.


      On the Net:


      NASA's Vision for Space Exploration


      Story from REDORBIT NEWS:

      Published: 2005/11/05 01:25:00 CST

      © RedOrbit 2005
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