President George W. Bush unveiled his vision for the future of human space travel at NASA headquarters on Jan. 14. The plan, "A Renewed Spirit of Discovery," provides the agency with a new focus and goals.
"Inspired by all that has come before, and guided by clear objectives, today we set a new course for America's space program," Bush told NASA employees.
In his plan, Bush calls for NASA to return the shuttle to flight so that the International Space Station (ISS) can be completed by 2010, at which time the shuttle will be retired. NASA will also refocus the ISS research with the "primary, almost singular" emphasis on the study of the effects of space travel on human biology, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said.
"Physical and chemical research that was planned for the space station will clearly take second priority to life sciences," says John M. Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
The second part of the plan is for NASA to develop, test, and have operational the Crew Exploration Vehicle to carry astronauts to ISS and beyond by 2014.The final component of the plan is to return to the moon and establish a lunar base by 2020. From this base, future missions, such as human trips to Mars, will be launched.
The initial cost of the President's plan will be $12 billion over a five-year period. NASA will reallocate $11 billion from its current five-year budget of $86 billion and request an additional $1 billion in new appropriations over the period.