Panel Finds NASA Manned Projects to Moon and Mars Currently Unrealistic

August 14, 2009

(ChattahBox) — A panel reviewing NASA’s human space flight program will report that there is no realistic way to return to the moon by 2020, or anytime soon thereafter without a significant budget boost. The Human Space Flight Plans Committee, appointed by President Barack Obama and headed by retired aerospace executive Norman Augustine, has been trying to come up with plausible strategy for America’s manned space program. The costs and technical challenges are simply too great, the panel concluded during its six-hour public meeting Wednesday. Their findings indicate NASA would need an additional $50 billion to develop Ares rockets, Orion space capsules and Altair lunar landers as currently planned for a return to the moon around 2020, panel members said. This is the same panel by the way whose members previously argued that NASA spends too much money ferrying astronauts to and from space, and that it’s time for the agency to hand off shuttle trips to private firms.

The longer-term part of the agency’s $81bn Constellation project, to land humans on Mars by the middle of the century, touted by George Bush in his 2004 vision for space exploration also looks totally unrealistic. In a meeting today with White House science advisers and budget officials, panel members are expected to say NASA has neither the money nor the technical know-how to fly astronauts on missions to Mars first.

“I really want to emphasize that we are not giving up on Mars at all,” said Norman Augustine, chairman of a panel reviewing NASA human spaceflight plans.

“We’re just saying that we think to go direct to Mars with today’s technology and money is riskier than we would want to be associated with,” he said. “It would likely not succeed.”

NASA’s budgetary pool for manned space missions are somewhat pitted against another priority project to monitor asteroids that might travel too close to Earth. The agency needs about $300m to expand a network of telescopes and meet the government’s target of identifying, by 2020, at least 90% of the giant space rocks that pose a threat to Earth.

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One Response to “Panel Finds NASA Manned Projects to Moon and Mars Currently Unrealistic”

  1. Panel Finds NASA Manned Projects to Moon and Mars Currently … | planets on August 14th, 2009 11:54 am

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