WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama said Tuesday the United States will partner with private industry to send people to Mars by the 2030s, adding commercial interests to Washington’s previously announced plan.
“I’m excited to announce that we are working with our commercial partners to build new habitats that can sustain and transport astronauts on long-duration missions in deep space,” Obama said in a written essay posted by CNN.
“These missions will teach us how humans can live far from Earth — something we’ll need for the long journey to Mars.”
Obama did not specify which commercial companies would be involved in the effort.
California-based SpaceX, headed by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, is also planning to send people to Mars in the coming years.
SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The issue of getting enough food and water into space to feed astronauts on a months or years-long mission to deep space has been a key logistical problem, and little research has been done to show how this might work.
Ever since taking office eight years ago, Obama has said the United States wants to send people to the Red Planet, Earth’s neighbor, by the 2030s.
NASA is developing a powerful rocket known as the Space Launch System and a deep space capsule, Orion, for this purpose.
The first launch of the SLS — with no people on board — is planned for 2018.
A US mission to send humans into the area of space beyond the Moon, but not as far is Mars, is planned for the 2020s. –AFP