To Boldly Go Back?
"Of the 58 editorials reviewed, just over half--30--had a decidedly negative reaction to NASA's exploration plans. Of the rest, 16 supported the plan, while the remaining 12 were either neutral or split on the plan, expressing both positive and negative sentiments."
And, sure enough, "in the vast majority of those editorials, the cost of the plan, $104 billion, weighed heavily in their opposition."
Of course, ongoing war coupled with a pair of killer hurricanes did not serve NASA's interests when it came to precision timing of the ESAS announcement.
In the immediate term--the 2006 budget--NASA probably has little to worry about, since the House and Senate have passed versions of the budget that effectively fully fund the agency once again. However, as the budget cycle starts again for 2007 in just a few short months, NASA will have to expect sharp questioning from members of Congress and their constituents about the exploration plan. NASA has done an admirable job providing a first-order answer of how it plans to return to the Moon. The agency now needs to better explain why it deserves in the years to come the tens of billions of dollars needed to turn that plan into rockets, spaceships, and footprints on the Moon.