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NBC.com September 20, 2005

NASA Proposes The Moon -- On A Budget

Spacecraft Would Use Existing Technology

NASA wants to return to the Moon in 15 years -- but this time on a shoestring budget.

The space agency on Monday revealed its blueprint for a new lunar mission using a craft that borrows parts from both the space shuttle and Apollo programs.

Comparatively, NASA said the plan would cost a little more than half of what Apollo did, but that's still $104 billion.

The spacecraft relies heavily on some of the same technology used for years in the shuttle and Apollo programs.

"Think of it as Apollo on steroids," said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin.

The new craft could carry six astronauts, twice as many as Apollo. Four would land on the moon and live there for a week.

By reusing proven technology, NASA hopes to increase safety and cut costs.

NASA said it will continue flying the shuttle until 2010 to fulfill its promises to the International Space Station.

But critics question how the agency can do both the moon and the shuttle without more money.

"NASA keeps trying to replace the shuttle while still flying it, and it simply hasn't produced any replacement hardware," said John Pike, of globalsecurity.org. "It's produced a lot of pretty pictures, and not much beyond that."

NASA said it is hoping for two moon shots a year.

 


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