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I welcome all discussion on the US space program and related subjects. However, this will be a moderated board. There are numerous other boards that can be used as bash Bush forums. I appreciate that this subject matter may go off topic a bit from time to time and I intend to be very open minded, but I won't allow this board to become a forum for the political agendas of others.
Bush Plans to Send Americans to Moon, on to Mars
Fri Jan 9,12:50 AM ET Add Top Stories - Reuters to My Yahoo!
By Steve Holland and Adam Entous
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Buoyed by a successful landing on Mars by a robot explorer, President Bush (news - web sites) plans a major announcement on space policy next week that envisions sending Americans back to the moon and ultimately to Mars, officials and congressional aides said on Thursday.
Nearly a year after the shuttle Columbia exploded on re-entering the atmosphere, sending NASA (news - web sites) into a deep spell of melancholy, Bush is expected to outline a sweeping vision of U.S. space leadership.
He is expected to propose a new lunar initiative leading to a permanent American presence on the moon and a mission to Mars in the long term, said the sources, who asked to remain unidentified.
Speaking to reporters with Bush in Florida, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said that after the Columbia tragedy Bush made clear his desire for U.S. space exploration to continue.
"The president directed his administration to do a comprehensive review of our space policy, including our priorities and the future direction of the program, and the president will have more to say on it next week," McClellan said, declining to reveal any details in advance.
Bush is scheduled to be in Mexico on Monday and Tuesday so any announcement is not expected before Wednesday.
Congressional sources said the administration was also considering setting up a more streamlined hierarchy for guiding the government's wide-ranging space programs and coordinating its research and development.
Under this scenario, there could be more exchanges of technology between NASA and the Defense Department.
Some members of Congress are worried about ensuring the United States remains the global leader in space exploration.
"If we don't do it, somebody else will," said Tennessee Rep. Bart Gordon (news, bio, voting record), a ranking Democrat on the House Science Committee. "The Chinese, the Europeans and the Japanese all have the goal of going to the moon. Certainly we don't want to wake up and see that they have a base there before we do."
NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND ENERGY SOURCES
The new space plan was spearheaded in large part by NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe, who was appointed by Bush to restore credibility to an agency plagued by budget troubles, including billions of dollars in cost overruns at the international space station.
Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) was also involved in the policy development, along with other senior Bush advisers. The administration was said to see the initiative as an important national security measure and experts said it could lead to new technologies and potential new sources of energy.
Bush's father, former President George Bush, had proposed a mission to Mars that was scuttled because of concerns over its high cost. The younger Bush likewise faces budgetary constraints including a budget deficit expected to top $500 billion this year alone.
Experts say a moon mission could be done without a significant increase in the budget by spreading the cost over seven to 10 years.
"You can use the existing infrastructure and be back on the moon in 5 to 10 years with a modest investment. You don't have to double the NASA budget," said Paul Spudis, a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Baltimore, Maryland.
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