News of the WeekHuman Exploration

Obama Facing Tough Decision on Whether to Keep Aiming for the Moon

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Science  25 Sep 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5948, pp. 1606-1607
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_1606

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Last week, the chair of a presidential panel on human space flight told two congressional panels that NASA doesn't have enough money to carry out the current plan to build a big rocket to take humans back to the moon and that the United States should consider other destinations and launchers. Many lawmakers oppose any major deviation from the plan, laid out by President George W. Bush in 2004, to build a base on the moon using a new launcher system called Constellation. But the White House, eager to put its own stamp on a long-term exploration effort, is drawn to other options laid out in the panel's executive summary released earlier this month. For President Barack Obama, who is expected to announce his space vision this fall, the challenge is to find a politically acceptable answer to the question of where NASA should send humans—and how.