The Obama Administration cites tough economic times as a reason it is proposing cancelling a NASA mission to return to the moon.
- The Obama Administration is proposing canceling a program to return to the moon.
- The decision means NASA would be constrained to missions to low-Earth orbit.
- NASA is estimated to have already spent a little over nine billion dollars on the program.
President Barack Obama will Monday formally propose abandoning plans to return U.S. astronauts to the moon, by ending the costly Constellation next-generation rocket program.
Arguing it must trim spending in tough times, the administration will instead direct NASA to turn to long-range research and development which could eventually lead to a manned space program to Mars, a senior U.S. official said.
"We are canceling the program, not delaying it," Obama's budget chief Peter Orszag told reporters.
The decision will mean that NASA will be constrained to low-Earth orbits for years to come, and will transform the aspirations of the U.S. space program following the planned retirement of the space shuttle fleet in September.