Obama axes Nasa space shuttle plan in new budget

President Barack Obama wants to end Nasa's moon programme, turn over space transportation to commercial companies and jump-start technologies needed for future human exploration of Mars and other destinations, officials said yesterday.

The plan is part of Obama's budget for the financial year to September 30, 2011, which was unveiled and must be approved by the US Congress.

Nasa, which currently receives about $18 billion (Dh66.11bn) a year, has been working to develop a replacement for the space shuttles, which are being retired this year after five more missions to complete construction of the orbiting International Space Station, a $100bn project of 16 nations.

Nasa currently spends more than half of its budget on human space programmes. Obama's budget ends work on the shuttle follow-on vehicle, known as Orion, as well as a pair of rockets developed to fly astronauts to the space station, the moon and other destinations in the solar system.

The shift represents a drastic realignment from President George W Bush's ambitious goals to take the US back to the moon.

 

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