Seeking to reinvigorate his call to send humans to Mars by the 2030s, President Obama says the U.S. is relying on private industry to find ways to make the "giant leap." Obama was calling attention to the government contracts awarded to six companies to build prototypes for "habitats" that could sustain human life in deep space. He also said that within two years, private companies will send astronauts to the International Space Station, part of a program to allow companies to use an open docking port on the station to develop their own innovations. He said the ultimate goal is for humans eventually to stay on the Red Planet "for an extended time."
These missions will teach us how humans can live far from Earth, something we'll need for the long journey to Mars.President Obama in an op-ed on CNN's website
Obama's comments come ahead of a meeting planned by the White House in Pittsburgh this week aimed at teaming scientists, students and others to further efforts to develop the commercial space market, according to the president's op-ed. Obama first set a goal in 2010 to send humans to Mars by the 2030s, but the initiative has attracted little attention since then. Many Government Accountability Office reports have warned of the challenges in meeting that goal, most notably a lack of substantial U.S. government funding. Obama did not elaborate on what a Mars mission would cost or how the U.S. would pay for it. But he said it will require years of patience, testing and education.