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NASA should focus its efforts on a solar-powered rover mission to Mars rather than human spaceflight in the coming decade, but only if costs can be slashed, a science panel said Monday.

The recommendation was part of a report by the National Research Council urging a series of planetary missions "that could provide a steady stream of important new discoveries about the solar system" from 2013 to 2022.

The report comes as NASA faces scrutiny from lawmakers over its proposed 2012 budget and pressure from the public to find a new way to transport astronauts into space once the three-decade old shuttle program ends this year.

"The committee is concerned that, as demonstrated in the recent past, human spaceflight programs can cannibalize space science programs," it said, urging budget firewalls between science-driven space missions and human spaceflight.

More depressing news on the former human space exploration front.  To read the rest of the article, click here.
Category: Science