Obama unveils new US space policy

Updated: 2010-06-29 05:52
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WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama on Monday unveiled a new US space policy, calling for more international and private sector cooperation on space exploration, and reiterating plans to send Americans to visit an asteroid by 2025.

International cooperation is key on all fronts included in the 14-page new space policy, which also touched on future needs for Earth observation, space debris and space security.

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"No longer are we racing against an adversary -- in fact, one of our central goals is to promote peaceful cooperation and collaboration in space, which not only will ward off conflict, but will help to expand our capacity to operate in orbit and beyond," Obama said in a statement.

"We are releasing a new national space policy, designed to strengthen America's leadership in space while fostering untold rewards here on Earth," Obama said. "For even as we continue our relentless focus on the serious challenges we face at home and abroad, our long-term success and leadership as a nation demands that we do not lose sight of the promise of the future."

The new national space policy restated the administration's strategy of seeking partnerships with commercial spaceflight organizations to transport crew and cargo to and from the International Space Station, and to begin manned flights to "new destinations" by 2025. It also reiterates Obama's proposed new direction for NASA, which calls on the space agency to target missions beyond low-Earth orbit -- such as to an asteroid -- by 2025 with the goal of sending astronauts to Mars in the mid-2030s.

"We set ambitious goals for NASA: ramping up robotic and human space exploration, with our sights set on Mars and beyond, to improve the capacity of human beings to learn and work safely beyond the Earth for extended periods of time," Obama said.

Most of the civilian side of the new policy was already announced by Obama in February and April. On April 15, Obama outlined his administration's new space exploration plan, vowing to increase NASA's budget by six billion dollars over the next five years.