Space: The Fin(anci)al Frontier

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Space seems a lot further away today. The International Space Station is in trouble -- $24 billion worth of trouble, to be precise. That's how much an independent advisory board told NASA it will cost to complete the U.S.'s commitment to the project, due mostly to "the current economic situation in Russia" and fears that Moscow is spending too much time and money on Mir. In 1993, President Clinton put a $17.4 billion cap on American contributions.

Russian incapacity comes as no surprise here, but the report does mean NASA administrator Daniel Goldin is out of options. It recommends he go cap in hand back to the White House and the Hill -- a major blow for the man whose main aim is to offer America "better, cheaper, faster" space missions. Worse, it means the station's completion date is set to be pushed back to 2006.

"It's time for NASA to take a hard look at this project," suggests Jeffrey Kluger, author of "Apollo 13" and TIME Science writer. "A lot of what we can do aboard the station we can do aboard the shuttle." If you were hoping to jump on the first flight up, you'll have better luck getting tickets for the replica Titanic.