A panel of space experts assembled by President Obama were expected to inform the White House today that unless they can round up some more cash, they won't have the funds to make it back to the Moon before 2020.
The UK Guardian says the report was apparently surprising to some inside NASA, who thought the project was more or less on track. Nine billion dollars have already been sunk into the Ares I rocket, which now risks becoming the most expensive pile of scrap metal ever seen. And thanks to a 1.3 trillion dollar deficit, the chance of that extra funding coming from the government seems unlikely.
This also throws a bit of a wrench in the plans of the Constellation project, which aims to put someone on Mars by the middle part of the century. But again, without funding and the additional voyages (like that to the moon), the 81 billion dollar project will suffer some epic setbacks. This could not have been what Dubya envisioned when he commissioned the project in 2004 (WE WERE SUPPOSED TO FIND LITTLE GREEN ALIENS!) [Guardian via Slashdot]