The committee said the U.S. space agency absolutely
more on private contractors to help fly astronauts back to the
International Space Station, and other low Earth-orbit destinations.
Five years ago during the Bush era, it was planned for NASA to get
back to the moon by 2020 -- a goal that is extremely unlikely to be
Although China, Russia, Japan, India, and the United
States all have outlined plans to get back to the moon, it seems like
Mars is the true goal for every major space nation.
can say that Mars is a destination, but it's really more like Mars is
because we're not setting a date," said Leroy Chiao, a
member of the 10-person committee, who spoke with Reuters.
"It's saying these are the things we need to do to build up the
infrastructure to get to Mars, this is how much money we have now,
and we'll see in the next several years what we think we can get
done. Then it'll be for the next budget cycles after that to figure
out when we might actually get to Mars."
expected to be the next country to reach the moon again, according to
U.S. space officials, noting there just isn't enough funding going
into NASA's long-term manned missions.
current fleet of space shuttles, which were supposed to be retired in
2010, will likely fly into 2011, the panel said. President
Barack Obama's advisers will analyze the committee's findings, but
it's unknown when the president will begin to outline what lies ahead
for NASA over the next few years.