When the space shuttle Discovery lands at Kennedy Space Center later today, its odometer will read somewhere in the neighborhood of 150,000,000 miles. The shuttle has flown 39 missions in its 27 year career. After today's landing, it will retire on planet earth. With Discovery's retirement, an era of American space exploration comes to a close; and, due to political and economic realities at home, future chapters remain in doubt. Yesterday, the US National Research Council reported that two planned rover missions to Mars, which NASA intended to launch along with ESA in 2018, may be about $1 billion outside of the U.S. budget.
Will shrinking federal funding cause the US to lose the space race to new kids on the block like China and India? To learn what may be in store for the future of our space aspirations we speak to Louis Friedman and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Along with Bruce Murray and Carl Sagan, Louis Friedman co-founded The Planetary Society, and Neil de Grasse Tyson is the current director of the Hayden Planetarium as well as the host of "NOVA Science Now."