NASA administrator Daniel Goldin is keen on projects which push scientific and technological knowledge to their limits within small budgets. The Origins programme is one such, and the New Millennium plan for affordable "micro" missions is another.

"Origins' goals - searching out clues to fundamental questions about the universe and life - will drive technology and science that will rewrite textbooks in physics, chemistry, biology and, possibly, history.

"It is one of the boldest challenges NASA has taken on, and the results could change the way humans think about the universe and their place in it," he says.

Source: Flight International