US President Barack Obama on Tuesday vowed to help send people to Mars as soon as 14 years from now, pledging to work with private companies to “to build new habitats that can sustain and transport astronauts on long-duration missions in deep space”.
“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 opinion piece for CNN posted to its website.
The president planned to discuss the initiative further when he meets with scientists, engineers and academics at an innovation summit Thursday in Pittsburgh.
“These missions will teach us how humans can live far from Earth, something we’ll need for the long journey to Mars,” Obama wrote. He said the ultimate goal is for humans eventually to stay on the red planet “for an extended time”.
Obama first set a goal in 2010 to send humans to Mars by the 2030s, but the initiative has attracted little attention since then. Numerous Government Accountability Office reports have warned of the challenges in meeting that goal, most notable a lack of substantial US government funding
Obama did not elaborate on what a Mars mission would cost or how the US would pay for it. But he said it will require years of patience, testing and education.