Tuesday, September 20, 2005

NASA details plan for craft that will fly to the moon

The United States plans to send astronauts back to the moon as soon as 2018 on a mission that would be cheaper and more ambitious than man's first trip to the lunar surface nearly 40 years ago, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said Monday.NASA wants to send a crew of four to the moon in a spaceship that resembles the capsule developed for the Apollo program in the 1960s. But this capsule would be able to land on either solid ground or water. The Apollo capsule only splashed down at sea.It would also be safer than its forerunner. And it would be roomier, taking a crew of four to the moon rather than Apollo's three.
"Think of it as Apollo on steroids," Griffin said of the new ship.
Griffin said the cost of the moon program would be $104 billion. Adjusted for inflation, that's roughly 55% of the cost of the first moon landing in 1969. He said NASA's budget would not need to grow to pay for the new effort and vowed not to raid other programs for funds. Savings would come from retiring the space shuttle in 2010."This is not about new money," Griffin said. "This is about a budget which keeps NASA ... approximately where it is today."...


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