Friday, July 01, 2011

For Visits to Asteroid & Mars, NASA Needs New Ways to Do Everything

With NASA at a crossroads as the space shuttles retire, the space agency is facing the steep challenge of developing a slew of new technologies for a new phase in exploration: trips to an asteroid and Mars.

For 30 years, NASA astronauts have worked in low-Earth orbit, flying on the space shuttlesand building the International Space Station. Now that the station is complete and the shuttle program is winding down, the United States is focusing on sending astronauts farther out in the solar system than ever before.

NASA's next big goals for human spaceflight, as articulated by President Barack Obama, are visiting an asteroid by the year 2025 and landing on Marsin the 2030s.

"We're not going to get to an asteroid in 2025 without some of the key building blocks that NASA wants to start on today," NASA's chief technologist Bobby Braun told reporters during a June 27 teleconference.

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