Neither Moon, Nor Mars, Nor Gloom of Night
NASA Won’t Make Appointed Rounds
Not for the forseeable future, anyway. Nancy Atkinson at Universe Today makes the sad assessment.
Congressional investigators have concluded that the Constellation program is likely to cost $7 billion more than budgeted if it is going to be ready to fly by its target date of March 2015. Without extra money, it could be delayed by 18 months or more. At the same time another report concludes that NASA would need an extra $2 billion a year to keep its shuttle fleet flying beyond 2010, a measure which would shorten the gap where NASA wouldn’t have a human rated vehicle available for access to space. But doing so would hamper plans to convert a launch pad and other facilities for moon missions, likely delaying Constellation. More money for either Constellation or the shuttle program is just not in NASA’s budget, and shifting money around from other programs “would be disastrous,” NASA shuttle program manager John Shannon said.
Constellation, NASA’s mission to the Moon and then to Mars, faces more than financial and political challenges. The technical problems are becoming more apparent, too. I’ve seen missions with far fewer obsticles canceled outright, but to kill this one leaves NASA with very little reason to exist at all.