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he question might have come from a caller on a consumer-advice program like "Car Talk": how much should a driver spend to keep a used car running after deciding to buy a much newer, far more expensive and thrilling model that has not rolled out of the factory yet?
When President Bush outlined a sensational new mission for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Jan. 14 — flying humans to the Moon in a brand-new spacefaring vehicle, then fishtailing toward Mars — the agency had to face almost the same question on its balky, 1970's-vintage fleet of space shuttles.