US Aims to Put Man on Mars by 2030s: Barack Obama
The United States has set an ambitious goal of sending humans to Mars by the 2030s, US President Barack Obama said. (PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Washington: The US has set an ambitious goal of sending humans to Mars by the 2030s as part of its efforts to open up new avenues of space exploration, US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday.
"We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America's story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time," Obama said in an op-ed in CNN.
“Getting to Mars will require continued cooperation between government and private innovators, and we're already well on our way. Within the next two years, private companies will for the first time send astronauts to the International Space Station," he said as he laid out plans for his ambitious goal.
Later this week, Obama has convened a meeting of some of America's leading scientists, engineers, innovators and students in Pittsburgh to dream up ways to build on the progress and find the next frontiers.
Just five years ago, US companies were shut out of the global commercial launch market. Today, they own more than a third of it.
More than 1,000 companies across nearly all 50 states are working on private space initiatives, he noted.
"The next step is to reach beyond the bounds of Earth's orbit. I'm excited to announce that we are working with our commercial partners to build new habitats that can sustain and transport astronauts on long-duration missions in deep space. These missions will teach us how humans can live far from Earth — something we'll need for the long journey to Mars,"
Meanwhile, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in another op-ed said NASA has already begun laying the groundwork for these deep space missions.
"In 2014 we issued a 'broad agency announcement' or 'BAA' asking private partners for concept studies and development projects in advanced propulsion, small satellites, and habitation as part of the newly created Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships or 'NextSTEP' programme," he said.
Seven companies received awards to start developing habitation systems in response to that 'NextSTEP' BAA. The idea is that these habitats or 'habs' would evolve into spacecraft capable of sustaining and transporting astronauts on long duration deep space missions, like a mission to Mars.
"And their development would be achieved through new public-private partnerships designed to build on and support the progress of the growing commercial space sector in Earth orbit," Boldon said.
"The work done by those companies was so promising that earlier this year, we extended the NextSTEP hab program into Phase 2 and opened it up to new entrants. In August, six companies were selected to produce ground prototypes for deep space habitat modules," he said.