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President Barack Obama is redirecting America's space program, killing NASA's $100 billion plans to return astronauts to the moon (of which $9.1 billion has already been spent on) and using much of that money for new rocket technology research. The Ares I and Ares V, and an Orion crew capsule projects have been cancelled.
NASA was unable to launch its unmanned test rocket Ares I-X Tuesday because of cloudy, windy weather, but will try again Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. ET, the space agency said.
SpaceX's Falcon 1 spacecraft made history tonight as the first privately developed launch vehicle to reach earth orbit from the ground. “About nine and a half minutes after launch, the second stage engine shuts down, and the Falcon 1 becomes the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to orbit the Earth,” the company said. [+video]
British billionaire Sir Richard Branson and American aerospace designer Burt Rutan are due Monday to show off their mothership, which is designed to air launch a passenger-toting spaceship out of the atmosphere.More than 250 wannabe astronauts have paid $200,000 or put down deposits for a chance to float weightless for a mere five minutes.
The quest is part of the Google Lunar X Prize, which will put $20 million into the hands of the first privately funded team that can land a rover on the moon; have it travel on the surface for 500 meters or more; send back data, photos and video; and do it all by December 31, 2012. The prize drops to $15 million after that date and goes away altogether after 2014.