NASA may abandon plans for moon base, New Scientist
"NASA will probably not build an outpost on the moon as originally planned, the agency's acting administrator, Chris Scolese, told lawmakers on Wednesday. His comments also hinted that the agency is open to putting more emphasis on human missions to destinations like Mars or a near-Earth asteroid."
"Under Scolese's predecessor, Mike Griffin, the agency held firm to its moon base plans. But the comments by Scolese, who will lead NASA until President Barack Obama nominates the next administrator, suggest a shift in the agency's direction. He spoke to the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies of the House Committee on Appropriations."
Editor's note: According to the New Scientist both Chris Scolese and Doug Cooke were vague on certain answers. If a shift is coming we'll have more details on May 6 when the 2010 budget is due.
Editor's Update: While I don't have Scolese's testimony at this time Rob Coppinger was Twittering the testimony. Here are the tweets with respect to a question on what impact the FY2010 budget would have on moon planning:
"- We are still looking at what we mean by Moon, is that an outpost that is very expensive or is it an Apollo
- Return to the Moon could just be extended sorties
- Scolese says return to Moon could be less than an outpost"
And here is the opening statement by Chairmain Alan B. Mollohan
Editor's Update: Here's the testimony by Chris Scolese:
Constellation versus everything else in NASA, O. Glenn Smith for the Orlando Sentinel
"It is time to reconsider whether we want to go ahead with the Constellation program to place a base on the moon. Many of us in the space community would be eager to recreate the thrill of Apollo. However, from the public's standpoint, going back to the moon in 2020 would not invoke the same sense of awe and inspiration it did 51 years earlier when it was a seemingly impossible task."