International Space Station

Politics, lack of support, funding have foiled US plans to return to moon

Howard McCurdy, professor of public affairs at American University, said last month cost is a major factor.

Cunningham said NASA has tried to cut costs to free up money for exploration, like reducing operations at U.S. Space Centers, but lawmakers have keep them open.

American support for NASA's lunar missions has hovered around 50 percent for decades, even going back to the Apollo program when the United States was trying to beat Russia to the moon.

"I want you to hitch your wagon to our rocket and tell the people the NASA program is an example of what this country can do," then-NASA chief Thomas O. Paine told Abernathy at the time .

The plan, however, sought to draw from a Pell Grant surplus, which prompted criticism from education advocates and some Democratic lawmakers.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announces new "moon to Mars" partnerships with American companies during a conference in Washington on November 29.

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