WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama sought Tuesday to reinvigorate his six-year-old call for the U.S. to send humans to Mars by the 2030s, a mission NASA has been slowly and quietly trudging away at.
The White House was calling attention to government contracts awarded to six companies to build prototypes for “habitats” that could sustain human life in deep space. One such privately developed habitat — an inflatable room —is already attached to the International Space Station. Obama also said that within two years, private companies like SpaceX and Boeing will taxi astronauts to the space station with NASA as a customer.
“These missions will teach us how humans can live far from Earth, something we’ll need for the long journey to Mars,” Obama wrote in an op-ed on CNN’s website . He said the ultimate goal is for humans eventually to stay on the red planet “for an extended time.”
NASA officials and outside space experts said there is little new in what’s coming out of the White House on Mars, something NASA has taken to calling its “Journey To Mars .”