wooferhound passes along this quote from the Orlando Sentinel: "Thanks to congressional inaction, NASA must continue to fund its defunct Ares I rocket program until March — a requirement that will cost the agency nearly $500 million at a time when NASA is struggling with the expensive task of replacing the space shuttle. About one-third of that money — $165 million — will go to Alliant Techsystems, or ATK, which has a $2 billion contract to build the solid-rocket first stage for the Ares I, the rocket that was supposed to fill the shuttle's role of transporting astronauts to the International Space Station. ... The odd scenario, in which NASA is throwing money at a canceled rocket program but can't fund a modernization program, is because of several twists in the legislative process that started a year ago and came to a head this month. At the root of the problem is a 70-word sentence inserted into the 2010 budget — by lawmakers seeking to protect Ares I jobs in their home states — that bars NASA from shutting down the program until Congress passed a new budget a year later. That should have happened before the Oct. 1 start of the federal fiscal year. But Congress never passed a 2011 budget and instead voted this month to extend the 2010 budget until March — so NASA still must abide by the 2010 language."