Obama Predicts Americans Will Reach Mars Within His Lifetime


obama2President Barack Obama predicted today that his new space exploration plans would lead American astronauts to Mars and back in his lifetime, a bold forecast relying on rockets and propulsion still to be imagined and built.”I expect to be around to see it,” he said of pioneering U.S. trips, first to an asteroid and then on to Mars. He spoke near the historic Kennedy Space Center launch pads that sent the first men to the moon, a blunt rejoinder to critics, including several former astronauts, who contend his planned changes will instead deal a staggering blow to the nation’s manned space program.

“We want to leap into the future,” not continue on the same path as before, Obama said as he sought to reassure NASA workers that America’s space adventures would soar on despite the impending termination of space shuttle flights.

His prediction was reminiscent of President John F. Kennedy’s declaration in 1961, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth.” That goal was fulfilled in 1969.

Obama did not predict a Mars landing soon. But he said that by 2025, the nation would have a new spacecraft “designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the moon into deep space.”

“We’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history,” he said. “By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow.”

Obama said he was “100 percent committed to the mission of NASA and its future.” He outlined plans for federal spending to bring more private companies into space exploration following the soon-to-end space shuttle program.

He acknowledged criticism for his drastic changes to the space agency’s direction. But, he said, “The bottom line is: Nobody is more committed to manned space flight, the human exploration of space, than I am. But we’ve got to do it in a smart way; we can’t keep doing the same old things as before.”

Obama said the space program is not a luxury but a necessity for the United States.

He noted that the Kennedy Space Center has inspired the nation and the world for half a century. He said NASA represents what it means to be American — “reaching for new heights and reaching for what’s possible” — and is not close to its final days.

Obama sought to explain why he aborted President George W. Bush’s return-to-the moon plan in favor of a complicated system of public-and-private flights that would go elsewhere in space, with details still to be worked out.

“We’ve been there before,” Obama said of the nation’s moon landings decades ago. “There’s a lot more of space to explore.”

He said his administration would support continued manned exploration of space “not just with dollars, but with clear aims and a larger purpose.”

The Obama space plan relies on private companies to fly to the space station, giving them almost $6 billion to build their own rockets and ships. It also extends the space station’s life by five years and puts billions into research to eventually develop new government rocket ships for future missions to a nearby asteroid, to the moon, to Martian moons or other points in space. Those stops would be stepping stones on an eventual mission to Mars itself.

Addressing concerns of job losses to space program workers, particularly in Florida, Obama said that “despite some reports to the contrary,” his plan would add more than 2,500 jobs to the Cape Canaveral region over the next two years than would the plan worked out by his predecessor.

“We’ll modernize the Kennedy Space Center, creating jobs as we upgrade launch facilities. And there is potential for even more job creation as companies in Florida and across America compete to be part of a new space transportation industry.

“This holds the promise of generating more than 10,000 jobs nationwide over the next few years. Many of these jobs will be created in Florida, an area primed to lead in this competition,” he said.

Among his most vocal critics has been Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. Obama did not mention Armstrong, who did not attend the speech, but he did praise Buzz Aldrin, one of Armstrong’s Apollo 11 crewmates.

Aldrin did attend the speech – flying in with Obama on Air Force One.

Obama also said his administration would rescue a small part of the moon program: its Orion crew capsule.

But instead of taking four astronauts to the moon, the not-yet-built Orion will be slimmed down and used as an emergency escape pod for the space station.

Obama spoke in the vast launch complex’s Operations and Checkout building – the place where Orion is scheduled to be eventually prepared for launch.

The president said, “This Orion effort will be part of the technological foundation for advanced spacecraft to be used in future deep space missions. In fact, Orion will be readied for flight right here in this room.”

White House science adviser John Holdren summed up Obama’s program as “a faster pace in space, more missions to more destinations sooner at lower cost.”

{Yahoo News/Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. What a costly goal to state on the day that hardworking Americans have to pay their taxes. His timing could not have been worse.

  2. When I saw the headline, I immediately thought, “How long before there are a bunch of dumb jokes about sending him to Mars?”

    Thanks for never disappointing me in the total lack of intelligence and wit among my fellow Jews.

  3. To Predictable: Don’t be so disheartened; most of your fellow Jews are far more intelligent and witty than the average Matzav blogger.

  4. Just think: less than two years ago, 78% of American Jews voted enthusiastically for Barack Obama for the Presidency.

    It is astonishing that it is always the other 22% who did not vote for him that always express their opinions here.

  5. Not true. I voted for him enthusiastically and would do so again if another election took place tomorrow. Obviously, the people who read this site are very Conservative politically. Your comment makes as much as saying that the commenters on Liberal sites interestingly don’t post much there.

    Trust me, there are plenty of us out there. They just don’t read Matzav or don’t care to comment.

    to#13 — Great comment!

  6. Correction: “Your comment makes as much sense as saying that the Conservative commenters on Liberal sites interestingly don’t post much there.”

    I left out the word Conservative.

  7. I realize there wasn’t a comment here as intelligent as yours – “Obama should start his travel to Mars RIGHT NOW!” What exactly are you a rov of and where? I assume it’s a term you use VERY loosely.

    My point was that it is obvious why those who voted for Obama don’t post here — it’s not that we’ve changed our minds, it’s that this site is a very Conservative (in terms of politics, not Judaism, obviously) and most Liberals don’t hang out here.

    Now you can make another funny joke about Obama. Because it was a little too immature for my 10 year old, maybe try for a different audience? There has to be a good Jewish site for little kids.