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Sep 8, 2009 3:10 PM by Associated Press

NASA's moon mission grounded by Obama panel

A White House panel of independent space experts says NASA's return-to-the-moon plan just won't fly.

The problem is money.

The expert panel estimates it would cost about $3 billion a year beyond NASA's current budget. The plan to revisit the moon by 2020 was proposed five years ago by then-President George W. Bush. It was supposed to be financed by savings from retiring the space shuttles. However, President Barack Obama's expert panel said any plan to go beyond low-Earth orbit was "not viable" with current spending. The panel posted a summary report online Tuesday. NASA already has spent $7.7 billion on the moon plan, including the design and construction of new rockets.

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