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NASA Chief Doubles Down on Mars, Asteroid Missions

NASA has its eyes firmly set on Mars. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Tuesday reiterated the space agency's focus on sending humans to the Red Planet in an op-ed piece for Space.com and at a gathering of scientists in Washington. "While NASA began its march to Mars decades ago with the earlier Mars rovers and orbiters, President Obama made a critical national policy statement in support of NASA's strategy on April 15, 2010. During a visit to Kennedy Space Center, the president challenged the nation to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s," Bolden wrote. "Since then, NASA has been developing the capabilities to meet those goals through a bipartisan space exploration plan agreed to by the administration and the U.S. Congress, and embraced by the international space community." Of course, not everybody is pleased with the space agency's focus on mounting manned missions to a near-Earth asteroid and to Mars, or even returning to the Moon for the first time since the 1970s, which would likely be a part of any crewed trip to further destinations in the Solar System. Bolden took aim at some of those critics during his opening remarks at the Humans 2 Mars Summit at George Washington University on Tuesday, according to NBC. "Get over it, to be blunt," the NASA administrator was quoted as saying in reference to those opposed to the agency's efforts to develop its next-generation, deep space Orion spacecraft for ferrying astronauts to further destinations in space than have ever been attempted. Earlier this year, a working group of scientists, scholars, astronauts, aerospace industry veterans put its seal of approval on NASA's Mars ambitions, predicting that the United States could successfully mount a crewed mission to Mars by the 2030s with some additional funding and a sustained commitment to the cause. In his op-ed, Bolden made the case that even the most ambitious space exploration programs were worth pursuing in the spirit of the historic Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs so many decades ago. "It is important to remember that NASA sent humans to the moon by setting a goal that seemed beyond reach. In that same spirit, the agency has made a human mission to Mars the centerpiece of its next big leap into the unknown," Bolden wrote. via PCMag.com.

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