Excerpt from the February 13, 2006, issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology:

World News & Analysis
NASA Budget Mollifies Partners; Lunar Talks Begin
Aviation Week & Space Technology
02/13/2006, page 40

Frank Morring, Jr.
Washington

[...]

"One dog that didn't bark in the science arena involved the Mars Science Lab (MSL). With near-term focus on lunar exploration, the previously planned Mars Sample Return mission, Mars Telecommunications Orbiter, an optical communication payload and Martian surface testbed activities were 'cancelled or indefinitely deferred.'

"But both the 2009 MSL mission and the 2007 Phoenix mission to the Red Planet drew extra funds to reduce project risks. This was good news for Mars program managers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory who had feared MSL would slip until 2011.

"Still, the science cuts drew sharp criticism from space science advocates, who favor more robotic exploration missions alongside the preparations for human exploration in the coming decade.

"'Using money intended for science programs to fund continued operation of the shuttle is a serious setback to the U.S. space program,' says Planetary Society President Wesley T. Huntress, Jr. 'NASA is essentially transferring funds from a popular and highly productive program into one scheduled for termination.'"