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Not only can the Chinese space program make it to the moon, it will get there before the U.S., according to NASA

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin told a House Committee on Science and Technology that the Chinese are likely to be the next nation to reach the moon, even before the United States.  "If they wanted to mount a lunar mission, they could do so," Griffin said.  The Chinese space program also has around 200,000 employees, while NASA has a workforce numbering close to 75,000.

Assuming NASA continues to receive the amount of funding it is currently getting, the space agency will be able to send astronauts back to the moon in 2019 -- an additional "few billion extra" will allow NASA to reach the moon in 2017.  The Chinese government continues to funnel large amounts of money towards the nation's space endeavors.  

Serious budget cuts and issues with the current NASA lunar program were the main reasons cited by NASA.  Bart Gordon, chairman of the U.S. House science committee, recently said that NASA is headed for a "train wreck" if the space organization cannot get the funding that it needs.  
With the pending retirement of the space shuttle in 2010, NASA also needs to finish the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) on time after the shuttle is retired.  "If the CEV is delayed even further, then we will cede leadership in human space flight at a time when Russia and China have such capabilities and India has announced its intention to develop them," Griffin said.




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