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United States will send Humans to Mars by the 2030s, says President Barack Obama

Obama said the U.S. government is already working with commercial partners to construct new habitats that can accommodate humans on extended space missions

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Mars
FILE - The base of Mars' Mount Sharp is pictured in this August 27, 2012 NASA handout photo taken by the Curiosity rover. VOA

October 11, 2016: President Barack Obama says with the help of private companies, the United States will send humans to Mars by the 2030s.

In an op-ed published on CNN.com, Obama wrote, “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 remains there for an extended time.”

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Obama said an effective public-private partnership that is essential to transporting humans to Mars is already under way. U.S. companies, he said, already own more than one-third of the global commercial launch market. And within two years, Obama said, private companies will send astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time.

FILE - In this frame grab taken from NASA Television, a SpaceX Dragon capsule separates from a robotic arm of the International Space Station en route back to Earth with a load of science experiments and gear from the space station, Aug. 26, 2016. VOA
FILE – In this frame grab taken from NASA Television, a SpaceX Dragon capsule separates from a robotic arm of the International Space Station en route back to Earth with a load of science experiments and gear from the space station, Aug. 26, 2016. VOA

Obama said the U.S. government is already working with commercial partners to construct new habitats that can accommodate humans on extended space missions.

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“These missions will teach us how humans can live far from Earth — something we’ll need for the long journey to Mars,” Obama wrote.

FILE - SpaceX founder Elon Musk tells the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, that he envisions 1,000 passenger ships flying en masse to Mars and says it could become reality within a century, Sept. 27, 2016. VOA
FILE – SpaceX founder Elon Musk tells the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, that he envisions 1,000 passenger ships flying en masse to Mars and says it could become reality within a century, Sept. 27, 2016. VOA

Obama cautioned it will take years to prepare for a trip to Mars, including educating the next generation of workers who would help make the trip a reality.

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“For the first time, more than 100,000 engineers are graduating from American schools every year, and we’re on track to accomplish my goal of training 100,000 excellent new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teachers in a decade.”

FILE - This color image taken August 8, 2012 from NASA's Curiosity rover, and released August 13, shows part of the wall of Gale Crater, the location on Mars where the rover landed on August 5, 2012. VOA
FILE – This color image taken August 8, 2012 from NASA’s Curiosity rover, and released August 13, shows part of the wall of Gale Crater, the location on Mars where the rover landed on August 5, 2012. VOA

The president said stronger leadership of the space program will lead to new scientific advances and provide a better understanding of the human race and Earth’s environment.

When humans have gone to Mars to stay, Obama said the advances that got them there will “make our lives better here on Earth.” (VOA)

  • Diksha Arya

    That is great… After all looking at the current environmental condition of earth we might need another planet to stay…

  • Antara

    So, a habitat that can accommodate the humans; is on the way! This is great news!

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NASA to Open Parts of ISS to More Commercial Opportunities Including Private Astronaut Missions

NASA pays about $80 million per seat, a price that it is working to trim to $50 million per seat, to send its astronauts

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nasa, trump, moon mission
NASA also plans to build a space outpost in lunar orbit that can relay astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024. VOA

NASA will open parts of the International Space Station to more commercial opportunities, it announced Friday, allowing companies to use the space station’s facilities in a number of ways, including private astronaut missions.

The space agency has balked at commercial ventures in the past, but the cost of operating the space station, which is one of the agency’s greatest expenses, currently runs $3 billion to $4 billion a year, or more than $8 million a day. NASA leadership has made it clear that the agency wants to eventually transition control of the space station and its region of space, low Earth orbit, to the private sector.

NASA, private astronaut mission
FILE – A photo provided by NASA TV shows a cargo ship as it arrives at the International Space Station, Dec. 13, 2016. VOA

“What this is, is an investment in the future for demand for low-Earth platforms” said Mike Read, the manager of Commercial Space Utilization at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, told VOA News. “What we want to do is leverage the station and try to enable others to turn a business model … while we have the infrastructure of the space station.”

By handing control of the space station over to commercial ventures, NASA could have more money to pursue more ambitious missions, such as building a new space station around the moon and sending humans back to the lunar surface.

In late 2018, the agency selected 12 companies to study the potential growth of a low-Earth orbit economy and how to best stimulate demand for human space flight. (Low-Earth orbit means altitudes below 2,000 km or 1,240 miles.) This group brainstormed ways companies could turn a profit at the space station, and the members decided that allowing corporations to build and market their products using space station resources would help ignite the economy NASA is seeking to build on.

But getting to space is not cheap.

Private astronaut missions will be limited to two flights per year, or about 12 astronauts per year, and come at a significant cost. The cost of travel and accommodations will have to be picked up by the private sector.

nasa, private astronaut mission
FILE – The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule is pictured, March 3, 2019, about 20 meters (66 feet) from the International Space Station’s Harmony module. VOA

As of now, the only ways to get to the space station are spacecraft developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Boeing, so “whatever prices Boeing and SpaceX set is on them,” said Jeff DeWit, NASA’s chief financial officer.

NASA pays about $80 million per seat, a price that it is working to trim to $50 million per seat, to send its astronauts.

Apart from the cost of getting there, companies hoping to work on the space station will have to pay to stay there: One night’s stay would be about $35,000 for one person, DeWit said.

“It’s now up to you to use your creativity — your ingenuity — and figure out how you can generate potential revenue,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration.

ALSO READ: NASA: Skywatchers will be Able to See Jupiter’s Largest Moons Using Just Binoculars

‘Learning experience’

“This is the beginning of us actively starting open dialogue with the industry to figure out how we can open up space to commercial activities, where revenue can be generated from private sector companies. … This is going to be a growing and learning experience for both [sides].”

But NASA’s Read points out a key element to this new venture: “We are a government bureaucracy that is trying to enable development of a new economy. That’s pretty different,” he said. (VOA)