Obama to NASA: Skip the Moon, scrap the rockets

It looks like big changes are coming NASA's way as the Obama administration outlines a new direction for the space agency with its 2010 budget proposal. Interestingly, the White House isn't calling for a dwindling operating budget year after year; rather, the administration would like to see the agency focusing on new technology rather than new missions with increased support as time goes on.

Scrapped are the plans to have men on the Moon by 2020, and gone is the Constellation program to replace the shuttle fleet with rockets — the program has been deemed "over budget, behind schedule, and lacking in innovation."

From the New York Times:

Mr. Obama's 2010 budget proposal for NASA asks for $18 billion over five years for fueling spacecraft in orbit, new types of engines to accelerate spacecraft through space and robotic factories that could churn soil on the Moon — and eventually Mars — into rocket fuel.

Going forward, NASA will be encouraged to seek international support for its efforts, as well as turn to the commercial sector for manned space operations. "I think this is a dramatic shift in the way we've gone about particularly human spaceflight over the past almost 50 years," John Logsdon, former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, told the New York Times.

"It is a somewhat risky proposition," he continued, "but we've been kind of stuck using the technologies we've developed in the '50s and '60s."

The plan to restructure NASA will still need to pass through congress before it goes into effect.

Via the New York Times