NASA Cutbacks Will Delay Moon Missions

Artist impression of the Ares V launcher. Image credit: NASAThe New York Times is reporting that recent cutbacks to NASA’s budgets will probably push back the human return to the Moon. Instead of retiring the Space Shuttle and sending the first spacecraft back to the Moon in 2014, the first missions won’t be until 2015 instead, according to NASA administrator Michael Griffin.

Griffin announced the delays during a recent US Senate hearing. He said that the budget cuts will require the agency to redirect its efforts away from the new Orion crew vehicle and the Ares I launch vehicle.

Although the Bush administration had proposed $17.5 billion for NASA funding, providing adequate resources to keep the project on schedule, congress froze any funding increases, keeping it at the previous year’s levels. This will have the effect of reducing the Orion/Ares development budget by $577 million.

Once the shuttle is retired in 2010, there will be 4-5 years where the US won’t be sending any humans into space. Griffin sees this as a shame, since other groups – China, Russia, and ESA – will be capable of launching manned missions.

Original Source: New York Times Story