President Obama has decided to abandon plans to return to the moon and focus on a much more ambitious effort — a manned trip to Mars — instead. A return to the moon would have been possible within this decade, but going to Mars will require cooperation among space-faring nations and is likely 30 years, give or take, into the future. The president’s new budget request provides US$3 billion over five years for “robotic exploration precursor missions that will pave the way for later human exploration of the moon, Mars and nearby asteroids,” Bolden explained. “These missions will inform us of the most interesting places to explore with humans, and validate our approaches to get them there safely and sustainably.” Also included in the proposed $3.8 trillion budget are funds for developing new engines, propellants, materials and combustion processes, as well as cross-cutting technologies such as communications, sensors and robotics, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said.
February 4th, 2010