From the UK Daily Telegraph
President Barack Obama will on Thursday unveil a "bold and daring" new space mission to send astronauts to Mars months after he scrapped a project to return to the Moon.His plan? Hope. And Change.
From the AP :
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – President Barack Obama boldly predicted Thursday his new plans for space exploration would lead American astronauts on historic, almost fantastic journeys to an asteroid and then to Mars — and in his lifetime — relying on rockets and propulsion still to be imagined and built.One problem - no plans for a man-rated booster to take it there.
"I expect to be around to see it," he said of pioneering U.S. trips starting with a landing on an asteroid — a colossal feat in itself — before the long-dreamed-of expedition to Mars. He spoke near the historic Kennedy Space Center launch pads that sent the first men to the moon, a blunt rejoinder to critics, including several former astronauts, who contend his planned changes will instead deal a staggering blow to the nation's manned space program.
The biggest criticisms of Obama's plans have been that they have lacked details and goals.
Obama sought to explain why he aborted President George W. Bush's return-to-the moon plan in favor of a complicated system of public-and-private flights that would go elsewhere in space, with details still to be worked out.
"We've been there before," Obama said of the nation's moon landings decades ago.
Obama also said his administration would rescue a small part of the moon program: its Orion crew capsule.
But instead of taking four astronauts to the moon, the not-yet-built Orion will be slimmed down and used as an emergency escape pod for the space station.
It's not so much a plan, as a statement of intent for a plan to be made by someone, details to be worked out by future administrations. Meanwhile in the here-and-now, the 10,000 jobs that were going to be lost will now only be 8000. Oh Joy.
I've said before that the Constellation program had gone off the rails. Obama was right there, it needed mending with a new one. But what do we have now?
White House science adviser John Holdren summed up Obama's program as "a faster pace in space, more missions to more destinations sooner at lower cost."Details to be worked out later, when it's more convenient. Hope! And Change!
"We want to leap into the future," not continue on the same path as before, Obama said as he sought to reassure NASA workers that America's space adventures would soar on despite the impending termination of space shuttle flights.In other words... "when I'm safely out of office. It's someone else's problem, and their fault if they're incapable of fulfilling my grand vision of Unicorns and Rainbows."
Obama did not predict a Mars landing soon. But he said that by 2025, the nation would have a new spacecraft "designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the moon into deep space."
"We'll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history," he said. "By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it."