Despite a $9 billion investment over the past six years, President Obama on this seventh anniversary of the 2003 Columbia accident is asking Congress to kill Project Constellation — NASA’s program aimed at returning American astronauts to the moon.
The Obama Administration’s proposed 2011 budget says:
“Leaving the boundaries of our planet has helped to spur innovation and push the boundaries of scientific knowledge across many fields. Recognizing the importance of space science and exploration, the Administration is proposing to cancel the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Constellation program — which is based largely on existing technologies and was over budget, behind schedule, and lacking in innovation — and replace it with a bold, new approach to human space flight that embraces commercial industry, forges international partnerships, and invests in the building blocks of a more capable approach to space exploration.
This includes: research and development to support future cost-effective, heavy-lift rocket systems; a vigorous new technology development and test program that aims to increase the capabilities and reduce the cost of future exploration activities; and the development of precursor robotic exploration missions to scout locations and demonstrate technologies to increase the safety and capability of future human missions and provide scientific dividends. To support this effort, the Budget adds $6 billion to NASA’s budget over the next five years.”