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NASA back-to-moon program scaled back in Obama budget

The battle over space has begun. And it's likely to be brutal.

The Obama administration is attempting to kill NASA's ambitious back-to-the moon program, an effort that carried the imprimatur of George W. Bush. The Constellation program had already run through about $9 billion to develop a new crew capsule, Orion, and a new rocket, the Ares 1. Both are vaporized by Obama's new NASA strategy.

Instead of going back to the moon, the administration wants to invest $6 billion over five years in a commercial taxi to orbit. The idea is to let the private sector take over the routine flights into space.

But change does not come easily in the complex, costly and highly political enterprise that is space travel. Key lawmakers are furious at the prospect of losing jobs and NASA dollars. Also in an uproar are companies that will see billions in expected contracts fail to materialize.

"The president's proposed NASA budget begins the death march for the future of U.S. human space flight," Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) said Monday. "The cancellation of the Constellation program and the end of human space flight does represent change - but it is certainly not the change I believe in."

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