NASA Chief: Obama Vision Dynamic, Bold

WASHINGTON, April 9 (UPI) — NASA hopes to develop long-range technologies so astronauts can travel to Mars, to asteroids and back to the moon, the U.S. space agency’s administrator said.

This program and others envisioned by U.S. President Barack Obama would extend “the frontiers of exploration beyond the wildest dreams of the early space pioneers,” Charles F. Bolden Jr. told reporters.

The telephone news conference with Deputy Administrator Lori Garver was an attempt by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to respond to internal and Capitol Hill criticism over the Obama administration’s plans to cancel development of the Constellation moon rocket program begun under former President George W. Bush, The Washington Post reported.

Obama announced a proposal Feb. 1 to cancel the program with next fiscal year’s budget.

That decision also prompted questions about Obama’s commitment to human space exploration, the Post said.

The Constellation program is a human spaceflight program aimed at gaining significant experience in operating away from Earth’s environment, developing technologies needed to open the space frontier and conducting fundamental science.

Part of the program involves the development of spacecraft and booster vehicles to replace the space shuttle program, which ends this year, and send astronauts to the moon and possibly to Mars.

Bolden, a retired U.S. Marine Corps major general, called Obama’s space-exploration vision “pretty dynamic and pretty bold.”

“The thing that makes it different from any other vision is the fact that it’s funded, and is something that is achievable and sustainable,” he said.

Members of Congress, especially from Gulf Coast states that house major NASA installations, say they’ll work to kill the president’s plan and resurrect the Constellation program.

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