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NASA's moon mission may be abandoned

world Updated: Feb 01, 2010 18:18 IST

IANS
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NASA's plan to send another mission to the moon by 2020 may take a U-turn as US President Barack Obama is expected to propose the closure of the space agency's programme in his new budget to be presented before the Congress on Monday.

With the release of President Obama's budget request, NASA will finally get the new marching orders, and there won't be anything in there about flying to the moon, The Washington Post reported.

The US administration has planed to kill the Constellation programme of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) that called for the re-launch of a space shuttle to the moon by 2020. The budget is a death knell for the Ares 1 rocket, NASA's planned successor to the space shuttle.

According to an official, Obama's budget will call for spending $6 billion over five years to develop a commercial spacecraft that could ferry astronauts to low earth orbit.

"The President is committed to a robust 21st century space program, and his budget will reflect that dedication to NASA. NASA is vital not only to spaceflight, but also for critical scientific and technological advancements," White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said Sunday.

"The expertise at NASA is essential to developing innovative new opportunities, industries, and jobs. The President's budget will take steps in that direction," he was quoted as saying.

The Obama administration believes that new funding for the commercial programme would create up to 1,700 jobs, which could help offset the expected loss of 7,000 jobs in Florida when the space shuttle is retired next year.