US to build human colony on moon, then on Mars
Press Trust of India
Washington, January 9
President George W Bush is expected to announce next week US plans to establish a permanent human settlement on the moon and set a goal of eventually sending Americans to Mars, officials were quoted as saying on Friday.
Bush will direct the government to immediately begin research and development to establish a human colony or space station on the moon, with the goal of having that lead to a manned mission to Mars, Washington Post reported, quoting US Administration sources.
Bush will announce a new "human exploration" agenda in Washington ahead of the final State of the Union address of his current term in office.
The plans, the Post said, grew out of a White House group that was assigned to examine the new missions of NASA after the Columbia disaster on February 1, which threw the future of the space programme into doubt.
The costs are expected to be huge. NASA budget this year is about $15 billion. It is expected to be increased for next year.
Advocates of a return to the moon, said the Post, argued that a lunar initiative, despite the huge costs at a time of large budgetary deficits, would be useful scientifically.