Mention "manned spaceflight" and the iconic images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the Moon probably come to mind.

The recently-announced United States budget for fiscal year 2011, proposed by President Barack Obama, includes the elimination of all funding for a key program that was expected to be the future flagship program for NASA.

The Constellation program, which came into being thanks to former President Bush's initiative titled "Vision for Space Exploration," will no longer receive funding. Constellation was the first step in many towards sending humans back to the Moon and, eventually, to Mars.

The budget changes still allocate about $6 billion to NASA, but with an emphasis on promoting private spaceflight. Many representatives and senators on both sides of the aisle oppose the cancellation of the program. However, President Obama is standing firm. The cuts are part of a long-term plan for space research and development, but likely heavily-influenced by the recession and a proposed three-year discretionary spending freeze.

More information about the proposed elimination of the Constellation program, along with other budget highlights, can be found in the White House's Office of Management and Budget fiscal year 2011 Terminations, Reductions, and Savings plan.

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