Back To The Moon And On To Mars: Bush Announces New Space Program

President George W. Bush has set out an ambitious program of space exploration over the next 20 years that will see manned missions to the moon by 2015-20 with a view to using to using the Moon as a launching pad for further exploration of Mars.

Bush announced his Vision for Space Exploration during a visit to the NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He said the Sapce Shuttle would be retired once the International Space Station was completed.

The new exploration program will be known as Constellation.

  • Listen to Bush (11m)
  • Watch Bush (24m)

The main items of the program are:

  • America will complete its work on the International Space Station by 2010. NASA will return the Space Shuttle to flight consistent with safety concerns and the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. The Shuttle’s chief purpose over the next several years will be to help finish assembly of the Station, and the Shuttle will be retired by the end of this decade after nearly 30 years of service.
  • The United States will begin developing a new manned exploration vehicle to explore beyond our orbit to other worlds — the first of its kind since the Apollo Command Module. The new spacecraft, the Crew Exploration Vehicle, will be developed and tested by 2008 and will conduct its first manned mission no later than 2014. The Crew Exploration Vehicle will also be capable of transporting astronauts and scientists to the International Space Station after the Shuttle is retired.
  • America will return to the Moon as early as 2015 and no later than 2020 and use it as a stepping stone for more ambitious missions. A series of robotic missions to the Moon, similar to the Spirit Rover that is sending remarkable images back to Earth from Mars, will explore the lunar surface beginning no later than 2008 to research and prepare for future human exploration. Using the Crew Exploration Vehicle, humans will conduct extended lunar missions as early as 2015, with the goal of living and working there for increasingly extended periods.

Statement from the White House.

The extended human presence on the Moon will enable astronauts to develop new technologies and harness the Moon’s abundant resources to allow manned exploration of more challenging environments. An extended human presence on the Moon could reduce the costs of further exploration, since lunar-based spacecraft could escape the Moon’s lower gravity using less energy at less cost than Earth-based vehicles. The experience and knowledge gained on the Moon will serve as a foundation for human missions beyond the Moon, beginning with Mars.

NASA will increase the use of robotic exploration to maximize our understanding of the solar system and pave the way for more ambitious manned missions. Probes, landers, and similar unmanned vehicles will serve as trailblazers and send vast amounts of knowledge back to scientists on Earth.

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