NASA may use space station to prepare flights to Mars

April 7th, 2011 - 6:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, April 7 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Work on the International Space Station (ISS) will be the focus of the US space programme for the next decade and will be the first step in preparing for manned flights to Mars, the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) has said.

“ISS is an anchor for the future of human space exploration and major component of our current human space programme,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at the International Space Station and Mars Conference at George Washington University Wednesday.

“Over at least next ten years, we will continue collaboration with other nations in order to live and work together in space and perform research and technology demonstrations,” Bolden said.

He stressed the importance of the ISS as the most realistic model to test life support and other technologies that would ensure successful human exploration of deep space.

“A journey to Mars will require robot systems, ensuring the crew stays healthy and safe. The station (ISS) is the start of this journey,” he said.

Bolden confirmed that a US delegation will travel to Russia April 12-15 to discuss the extension of the ISS’s service life and future joint projects in space exploration, including the development of a nuclear-powered spaceship.

In a major space policy speech at Kennedy Space Center April 15, 2010, US President Barack Obama predicted a manned Mars mission to orbit the planet by the mid-2030s, followed by a landing.

The US Congress has approved manned missions to the Moon, followed by asteroid exploration in 2025 and a trip to Mars in the 2030s.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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