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Report: Obama Decides on $1 Billion NASA Budget Boost and New Heavy-Lift Launcher? December 20, 2009

Posted by Nick Azer in Ares I, Augustine Panel, Base Race, Constellation, NASA, Norm Augustine, Obama, U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee.
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A report by the blog ScienceInsider quotes sources as saying that Obama last week decided, in a meeting with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, on his immediate direction for NASA: an additional $1 Billion in budget, a new heavy lift launcher to replace the Ares 1, and potentially a shift in mission destinations away from the Moon (!).

The Augustine Report (PDF) recommended as an option a manned flight to an asteroid instead of the Moon—as soon as the early 2020s–an option that, according to this new ScienceInsider report, has the White House “more intrigued” than a return to the Moon (which, with a scrapping of the Ares 1 rocket, would be delayed until at least the mid 2020s…much later than the potential manned asteroid landing, or even a landing on a moon of Mars).

With the Moon well within the sights of private space and numerous other nations, it would be perhaps redundant for NASA to have it’s own full-fledged lunar program. NASA skipping the moon, then, is not a death knell to moon colonization, and could be a shrewd choice with many major private space firms (SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, etc.) being American anyways.

Check out the ScienceInsider blog’s report for the full details. An announcement reportedly could come as soon as this week and as late as February, so stay tuned…

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