Obama wants the USA to go to mars..

Posted by Jimi on 20. Apr 2010

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Pointing to Mars and asteroids as destinations, President Obama on Thursday forcefully countered criticisms that he was trying to end the nation’s human spaceflight program.

This was the first time that the president had lent his personal political capital in an increasingly testy fight over the future of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

“The bottom line is, nobody is more committed to manned spaceflight, to human exploration of space than I am,” he said in a speech to about 200 attendees of a White House-sponsored space conference here.

But he was unwavering in insisting that NASA must change in sending people into space. “We’ve got to do it in a smart way,” Mr. Obama said, “and we can’t just keep on doing the same old things we’ve been doing and thinking that’s going to get us where we want to go.”

Instead of earlier vague assurances by Charles F. Bolden Jr., the NASA administrator, and other administration officials that NASA would eventually venture beyond Earth orbit, Mr. Obama gave dates and destinations for astronauts. But the goals would be achieved long after he leaves office: a visit to an asteroid after 2025, reaching Mars by the mid-2030s.

“Step by step, we will push the boundaries not only of where we can go but what we can do,” Mr. Obama said. “In short, 50 years after the creation of NASA, our goal is no longer just a destination to reach. Our goal is the capacity for people to work and learn, operate and live safely beyond the Earth for extended periods of time.”

Mr. Obama noted that President John F. Kennedy challenged Americans to land on the Moon in 1961 — the year the current president was born. But the plan Mr. Obama laid out for now through the 2030s was unlike the Kennedy vision: It was a call for private industry to innovate its way to Mars, rather than a call for a national effort to demonstrate American predominance.

Mr. Obama’s budget request to Congress in February proposed a major shift for NASA: canceling the Constellation program, started five years ago to send astronauts back to the Moon, and turning to private companies for carrying astronauts to the International Space Station.



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