Watchdog group cautions on Mars mission

Jan. 13, 2004 at 5:11 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Citizens Against Government Waste, a watchdog group, has criticized the proposed expansion of the U.S. space program as "too risky and costly."

The group, once headed by the late industrialist J. Peter Grace, said in a release that the proposal "may be a noble idea, (but) is not feasible at this time."

"Cost estimates for the new programs range from $550 billion to $1 trillion. Until the federal government brings the record deficit back down to Earth, it should not launch expensive new space programs of questionable scientific value," CAGW President Tom Schatz said Monday.

CAGW also called attention to what it called "financial problems" plaguing NASA. "The space station ... was completed $4.5 billion over budget and the space shuttle is grounded at least until the fall."

The group also pointed to four recent General Accounting Office reports criticizing NASA's effort to modernize its financial management program as indicative of ongoing problems within the U.S. space agency.

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