Barack Obama is travelling to Pittsburgh this week for the science and technology focused White House Frontiers Conference. Writing on CNN, the president re-declared his love for space, and announced that the US has partnered with private companies in order to get humans to Mars by the 2030s.
“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 wrote. “These missions will teach us how humans can live far from Earth — something we’ll need for the long journey to Mars.”
Details of the partnership are sparse, and Obama still hasn’t offered up any money, but the White House will probably elaborate on the partnership this week. Obama has been pushing the idea of getting humans to Mars for some time now, but he hasn’t gone so far as to provide funding for a Mars expedition. And this current announcement, while lofty in its rhetoric, stops short of actual policy that would allocate funds. Mr. Obama is, after all, basically out of office.
NASA is currently working on a mission that would send an improved rover to Mars in 2020. The new rover is modelled after the extremely successful Curiosity vehicle, which has been prowling around the red planet since 2012.
It’s interesting that Obama notes that he wants the missions to include a way to “return safely to Earth”, as Elon Musk over at SpaceX just proposed an ambitious plan that would require people to travel to Mars permanently. Politics can really suck the life out of you, but listening to a President excited about pushing the boundaries of space exploration is always pretty awesome. [CNN]