“Mars or Bust!” –NASA Shifts Future Missions to Deep Space


The Space Shuttle Atlantis will be the last of its kind sent to space by the U.S. NASA says it is interested in "deep space" exploration

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says that human space flight for America will not end with the retirement of the shuttle program. Instead, the space agency plans to refocus its efforts from lower-orbit vehicles to deeper space probes.

"Today NASA and the nation want to touch an asteroid and eventually send humans to Mars," he told a luncheon crowd at the National Press Club on Friday. Bolden highlighted two new NASA programs that will eventually "open up the entire solar system to us."

A Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle will carry four astronauts for 21-day deep space missions, and will be able to land in the Pacific Ocean. "It is designed to be much safer during ascent and entry than the shuttle," Bolden said.

NASA is near a decision and announcement on a new heavy-lift rocket space launch system.
Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled for liftoff on July 8 for a 12-day mission to the International Space Station, marking the final flight for the shuttle program. NASA hopes to sign contracts with several U.S. companies to provide the services that shuttles currently provides.

"The space shuttle has been very good to this country. It is an incredible ship that is difficult to let go. In just one week from today, the space shuttle will rocket off the planet one last time. We will all be a little sad for a while," said astronaut Mark Kelly, who recently announced his retirement so that he could spend more time with recuperating wife Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.


The Daily Galaxy via Reuters.com

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