The U.S. space agency is sacrificing unmanned science missions in order to fund President Bush's plan to return astronauts to the moon and to complete the International Space Station. Critics of NASA have been making that charge for the past year, and a May 4 National Academy of Sciences report joins the chorus.
NASA's projected budget over the next 5 years cuts basic-science funding by 15 percent. That shortfall would halt work on several proposed planet-exploration missions, including one to look for life within Jupiter's moon Europa. It would also cancel a search for Earthlike worlds beyond the solar system and delay a mission to bring back samples of Mars. Funding for the search for life beyond Earth would be halved.