New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

July 21, 2009 By SETH BORENSTEIN , AP Science Writer

(AP) -- NASA's new boss says he will be "incredibly disappointed" if people aren't on Mars - or even beyond it - in his lifetime.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr., who's 62, told The Associated Press that his ultimate goal isn't just - it's anywhere far from Earth.

"I did grow up watching Buck Rogers and Buck Rogers didn't stop at Mars," Bolden said in one of his first interviews since taking office last Friday. "In my lifetime, I will be incredibly disappointed if we have not at least reached Mars."

That appears to be a shift from the space policy set in motion by President George W. Bush, who proposed first returning to the by 2020 and then eventually going to Mars a decade or two later. Bolden didn't rule out using the moon as a stepping stone to Mars and beyond, but he talked more about Mars than the moon.

Bolden said NASA and other federal officials had too many conflicting views on how to get to Mars, including the existing Constellation project begun under Bush. That project calls for returning to the moon first, with a moon rocket design that Bolden's predecessor called "Apollo on steroids."

A new independent commission is reviewing that plan and alternatives to it. Bolden said his main job over the next few months will be to champion an "agreed-upon compromise strategy to get first to Mars and then beyond. And we don't have that yet."

Bolden, a former astronaut, also vowed to extend the life of the beyond 2016, the year the Bush administration planned to abandon it.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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not rated yet Jul 21, 2009
I was "incredibly disappointed" that people were not on Mars in 1984. Maybe US astronauts can hitch a ride with the Chinese.
not rated yet Jul 21, 2009
yea dirk, the problem with that is the rocket will fall apart just past the moon....
not rated yet Jul 22, 2009

I agree. Mars should be our next goal for a visit after returning to the Moon.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
4 / 5 (1) Jul 22, 2009
Going to Mars and search for life is just a publicity stunt. Plant a flag than back to LEO as history shows.

They should be searching for minerals that will run out on Earth like silver and other that came with meteors like coltan. Having some idea where to find stuff to support space colonies like water and plant nutrients would also be nice. Moon has been hit by a lot of mineral bearing asteroids / meteorites in the last 3 billion years and i bet they are still there.

There are plenty of moons in our solar system and when we know how to put together and support a base on our nearest, other are just a little bigger logistic problem.

Moon, Phobos, Ceres, Vesta, asteroid mining, that would be great news.

Not returning to Moon on a visit, conquer it, then move on.

not rated yet Jul 24, 2009
earthlingX-there is so much more to going to mars than to search for life. overall, we are wanting to go in order to colonize the planet and branch out into space...the same damned reason for the moon trips all in all. i mean if you think about it, searching for life is just prudent to do...after all, you wouldnt want some giant alien species standing 100 feet tall in massed numbers coming to our planet without first checking to see if it had life at all, and if intelligent life, asking if its ok...right? that being of course a correlation of microbes or bacteria on mars, if they exist, looking up at us saying "there goes the neighborhood....giant freakin ape decendents...greeeeat". i am half joking but also half serious...a better example....lets say for arguments sake that intelligent life is there that is much more technologically capable and its just hiding figuring "hell, theyre driving freakin remote control cars here...they are no threat". the day we physically show up, that would likely tick them off royally, THEN we'd see who and what they are...right before they dropped a biological weapon on our planet to cleanse it of humans.
Scince fictiony I know, but even we know the chances of an intelligent species visiting for friendship are very low...they want to conquer...and that is our nature too, and so we would try.
sry to ramble guys...

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