Mars Mission a Priority: NASA Leader

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2013  |  Updated 9:14 AM EDT
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Mars Mission a Priority: NASA Leader

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NASA Administrator Charles Bolden speaks about the Curiosity rover during an event at NASA headquarters, Aug. 6, 2013 in Washington, DC. The event was held to observe the first anniversary of NASA's Curiosity rover landing on Mars.

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The leader of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration calls this “a very exciting time for NASA” with planned missions to an asteroid and to Mars in the next couple of decades.

NASA administrator Charles Bolden Jr. told an audience Tuesday at Gettysburg College that he's optimistic about America's future in space despite what he called “temporary setbacks facing everyone in government,” The Gettysburg Times reported.

The agency plans to have humans capture an asteroid by 2025 and redirect the 500-metric-ton body to a stable lunar orbit where astronauts can visit and explore it.

“It will take a year, year-and-a-half to reach it,” Bolden said. “We won't stop it or move it, because it is moving too fast. The goal is to make ourselves one with the asteroid and push it in the right direction. If it goes just outside a fingers reach, that is a miss.”

Bolden said a human mission to Mars in the 2030s is a priority for NASA. The Curiosity rover landed last summer and is assessing whether Mars was or is an environment able to support life.

“It's a big challenge, but we're working on it,” Bolden said. “The main thing is how do we protect humans from the radiation. We think the radiation environment may not be as bad as we originally thought, but we need speed and game-changing propulsion.”

Bolden called the ending of the space shuttle program two years ago as “a bittersweet moment” but said private space exploration firm SpaceX has begun resupplying the International Space Station with cargo launched from the United States.

 


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