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U.S. Flight To Mars Cancelled On "Specific Intelligence"
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WASHINGTON - NASA has been ordered to cancel its Spirit and Opportunity rover missions amid "specific intelligence" suggesting a terrorist attack is likely against the mission. "We have specific and credible intelligence suggesting that one or both of the rovers are considered targets by al-Qaida," said a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security. "Since the threat is currently millions of miles away, we do not consider it sufficient cause to raise the National Terror Threat Level which remains at the High or Orange level."

NASA officials were quick to object to the order. "This mission is going to run somewhere upwards of 600 million dollars. It would be cost prohibitive for al-Qaida to launch an attack against the rovers, and that's ignoring the technical impossibility of a group with no space experience launching an interplanetary mission," said NASA spokesman Jonathon Spears. "Even if they were able to launch an attack, the very worst they could do would be to destroy the rovers. The rovers may well be destroyed anyway. We know that, that's why we sent two. So why should the mission be aborted? It's just nuts."

Tom Ridge, Secretary of Homeland Security, thinks NASA is missing the point. "In the first place, you don't have to be able fly a helicopter in order to shoot one down. So al-Qaida's lack of space experience in no way suggests they are incapable of launching an attack. Secondly, they have access to millions of dollars in drug money and other ill-gotten gain and they are very willing to spend their war chest on highly visible missions. We consider it to be much better for us to decide to abort this mission ourselves rather than give al-Qaida an opportunity to destroy it."

NASA lawyers vow to get a stay on implementation of the order. Since the first rover, Spirit, is expected to touch down on the red planet within hours, the legal wrangling should allow time for at least one rover to complete its mission.
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