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Augustine panel narrows options for NASA exploration plans
Posted: Thu, Aug 6, 2009, 8:01 AM ET (1201 GMT)
Orion spacecraft illustration (Lockheed Martin) Members of a committee examining the future of NASA's human spaceflight plans presented seven options they are studying Wednesday, ranging from variants of the current plans to one that would bypass the Moon entirely. Three of the seven options under study fit into current NASA budget projections, including one that closely follows the current plan (although delaying the lunar landing beyond 2020), and two others that either focus more on extending the life of the ISS or "dashing" out of low Earth orbit on missions to lunar orbit, near Earth objects, but not immediately to the lunar surface. Four additional options, ranging from greater use of the shuttle systems to one that focuses on human missions to Mars rather than the Moon, would cost more than the current budget profile. The panel plans to refine these options into three finalists for their final public meeting next week, with a final report due at the end of the month.
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