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NASA Urged to Determine Cost Of Project Before Proceeding

NASA should determine exactly how much its Prometheus 1 project to develop nuclear-electric propulsion technology will cost before it proceeds, the Government Accountability Office said in a study.

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The aim of the project is to develop a combination of nuclear and electric propulsion to increase the amount of power available for space exploration and allow spacecraft to travel farther in the solar system and beyond.

NASA has asked for $319.6 million for the program for fiscal 2006 and has projected the annual cost to rise to about $779 million by 2010.

But the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the project could cost as much as $10 billion, said Allen Li of the GAO.

The agency needs to come up with a "sound business case" to make sure that Prometheus 1 does not compete with other agency projects, Li said in the report.

The study was conducted at the request of Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii).

-- From News Services

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