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MAYDAY FOR PENTAGON SPACE PROGRAM

sbirs_high_art_lo.jpgWhile private companies are touching the edge of space, and NASA is figuring out how to get to the Moon and Mars, key parts of the Pentagon's already-troubled space program are crashing, fast.The U.S. military relies on satellites to guide its bombs, relay its orders, and spy on its enemies. But the next wave of orbiting eyes and ears is costing tens of billions of dollars more than expected. It's an open question whether they'll ever make it into space.The troubles start with Space-Based Infrared System-High ("SBIRS-High"), a series of satellites designed to spot missile attacks, both on distant battlefields and against the continental U.S. The Air Force just had to add another $1.5 billion to the project. That means the cost for SBIRS-High has tripled since it was first introduced, Aviation Week reports.But those hiked prices seem downright petite, compared to the boondoogle that is the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle ("EELV") program. The Pentagon rocket modernization project was supposed to "reduce the governments total [space] launch costs by up to 50 percent," notes Defense News.Not any more. Originally billed at $18.8 billion, the EELV's is now projected to rise to $31.8 billion, according to a new Congressional report.The government blamed the weak commercial space launch market and "incorrect assumptions about inflation" for most of the added costs. But, given the Pentagon's dismal recent history in space, that's a little bit like saying, "the dog ate my satellite."THERE'S MORE: "People don't realize that in many ways the DoD space program is even more of a disaster than NASA's (partly because they sweep so much dirt under the black program carpet)," notes space blogger Rand Simberg.

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