Making the financial outlook even worse, NASA is still saddled with the costly space station, whose completion will require at least 25 more space shuttle flights. Many who heard Bush’s speech assumed that the funding for human space exploration would come from the phaseout of those two programs, which consume the lion’s share of NASA’s budget. But that’s not the case, at least not for the next five years. Of the $12 billion that will be spent to achieve the new exploration goals, $11 billion will have to be cut from other parts of NASA’s budget; the cuts will come mainly from science programs not directly related to human exploration (see “1 Step Forward, 2 Back?,” page 67).
“(The station) is a hole in space into which NASA is pouring money, and it’s not even on the table for debate,” gripes Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart, who sent a letter to Bush and O’Keefe on January 19 recommending the immediate termination of the shuttle and station programs.
Other critics of the new space policy are concerned that the president plans to abandon the space shuttle too soon. With the shuttle scheduled for a 2010 retirement, and the CEV not expected to start flying until 2014, NASA faces a hiatus of at least four years in which it will have no vehicles traveling to space. “A big gap like that threatens the health and vitality of NASA,” says Dan Shapiro, legislative director to senator Bill Nelson of Florida.
Some critics have even suggested that the Bush vision is a covert plan to euthanize NASA by phasing out its biggest programs, then shelving the Moon initiative. Even if that’s not the case, it’s clear that the bulk of the funding required for a Moon program will be the responsibility of future
If the bad news is that a four-year battle over spending priorities, vehicle designs and mission planning has just begun, the good news is that, for the first time in a long while, space policy is a matter for national debate rather than idle speculation. Key fodder for discussion is exactly what Americans will do on the Moon once we return. The mission can’t simply be a repeat performance of Apollo. “That’s not a great vision,” says Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society.
Unless activities on the Moon are focused on testing ideas and equipment for going to Mars (at a much safer distance from home), the Moon could end up a detour on the road to the Red Planet, as Carl Sagan once warned. “The idea of having a permanent base on the Moon could be a quagmire,” says Louis Friedman, executive director of the Planetary Society, a nonprofit space advocacy group co-founded by Sagan. “It could be the space station and worse, all over again.” And while the United States is fixing its gaze on the Moon, the European Space Agency’s much more detailed Aurora plan calls for a human landing on Mars in 2033.
Still, Friedman and other space enthusiasts are hopeful that the new NASA policy will finally set the agency back on a path toward the heavens. Until a few months ago, when the White House began to hint that President Bush was planning a new space agenda, it looked like the next big NASA program would be the Orbital Space Plane—a new spacecraft that would simply ferry astronauts back and forth to the space station, which is even less than the current shuttle does. “That was the space program version of Groundhog Day,” says Zubrin. “Now the vision is, We’re pushing out.”
Are we really going to the moon in this failing economy???
How much money are we going to waste on something that is non-essential to our existence?
How about we spend the money on fixing up our "run down house" before we "go on vacation"
If America actually been to the moon before, they would have never left. They would have claimed the moon as an American territory. Once America occupies somewhere they never leave. Don't believe the hype America has ever been to the moon.
We can barely make it to the space station, without blowing ourselves up . Yet the misled think we are going to the moon. Yeah in some elaborate Hollywood screenplay.;-(
Space policy is look, but u can't touch ;-(