The Mars rover Curiosity will complete its primary mission in June but the mobile laboratory that has discovered so much about Martian geology shows no sign of slowing down and, indeed, awaits further instructions.
The cost of extending those two missions and the life of three smaller exploratory probes, also operating beyond their allotted life spans, for fiscal 2015 is more than
The big costs of space exploration are the upfront expenses of design, construction and launching. The planned mission to Europa, Jupiter's moon with the most promising signs of finding some kind of life, will cost about
Scrapping Cassini at this point,
Not that such wisdom has ever stopped our government before. The Obama administration has twice before tried to cut
Despite growing competition from other countries, notably
Compared to the money
But once we surrender that lead in space, it will be time-consuming, hugely expensive and perhaps even impossible to regain.
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