"Despite a stalled space shuttle program, NASA is confident it can launch and sustain human exploration of the moon by 2018, the space agency's top official said Monday.
The $104 billion plan calls for an Apollo-like vehicle to carry crews of up to four astronauts to the moon for seven-day stays on the lunar surface. The spacecraft, known as the Crew Exploration Vehicle or CEV, could even carry six-astronaut crews to the international space station or fly automated resupply shipments as needed, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said.
'Think of it as Apollo on steroids,' Griffin said as he unveiled the agency's lunar exploration plan during a much-anticipated press conference at its Washington headquarters. 'Unless the U.S. wants to get out of manned spaceflight completely, this is the vehicle we need to be building.'"