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Panel: Give NASA money or forget human spaceflight

By Ed O'Keefe

The Post's Joel Achenbach reports:

Put more money into NASA's human space flight program or forget about going anywhere new and interesting with astronauts, a blue-ribbon panel told the White House on Thursday.

In its final, 154-page report -- "Seeking a Human Spaceflight Program Worthy of a Great Nation" -- the 10-person committee led by former aerospace executive Norman Augustine said NASA's current program "is at a tipping point where either additional funds must be provided or the exploration program first instituted by President Kennedy must be abandoned at least for the time being."

The committee had a jaundiced view of the Ares 1 rocket currently under development as a replacement for the space shuttle. But the report stopped short of calling for the Ares 1 to be killed outright.

"It's a very expensive vehicle," Augustine said after a news conference in Washington. Under current budgets, Ares 1 won't be ready to take astronauts to the International Space Station until 2017 at the earliest, the committee estimated.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | October 22, 2009; 1:30 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments  
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