President Barack Obama is redirecting America’s space program, killing NASA’s $100 billion plans to return astronauts to the moon and using much of that money for new rocket technology research, reports the Associated Press. The moon mission, which already cost $9.1 billion, was based on old technology and revisiting places astronauts already had been, officials said. “Simply put, we’re putting the science back into the rocket science at NASA,” White House science adviser John Holdren said at a budget briefing Feb. 1. The $4 billion that NASA spends yearly on human space exploration now will be used for what NASA and White House officials called dramatic changes in rocketry, including in-orbit fueling. They said those new technologies eventually would be used to send astronauts to a nearby asteroid, a brief foray back to the moon, or the Martian moons. The White House plan was short on details, such as where astronauts would fly next, on what type of rocket ship, or when. However, officials were quick to point out the failures of the Bush administration’s moon program, called Constellation.
“This is a pretty substantial change,” said MIT astronautics professor Ed Crawley, who was on a special panel that looked at the future of spaceflight for the White House. “It is more change than I thought they’d take on.”