Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative
The Obama Administration's Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative supports the development of "game-changing" space technologies that will lower the cost and increase the capabilities of future space activities. It also supports the ability of American companies to carry people to space, and science missions and research that will enhance human understanding of the Earth and solar system. In April 2010 President Obama committed NASA to a series of development milestones he said would lead to new spacecraft for astronauts to ride to the International Space Station, a modified Orion capsule developed as an emergency return spacecraft, and a powerful new rocket.
Obama's plan largely mirrored the "flexible path" option offered by a blue-ribbon panel established by the president last year to help decide the best map for future space exploration. The outline did not do away with all the research and development from Constellation. Noting the success of the agency's development of the Orion crew capsule, Obama called on NASA to develop a version of that spacecraft so it can be launched without a crew to the International Space Station. It will be based there as an emergency craft for astronauts living on the orbiting laboratory.
Obama said "by 2025, we expect 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. 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. And I expect to be around to see it."
About $3.1 billion of the additional funding would go into research and development for a heavy-lift rocket. A design for a large booster would be chosen in 2015 with the goal of launching the spacecraft a few years later. The bigger rocket could be used to loft payloads too large for most boosters, including giant fuel depots that would be parked in distant orbits so spacecraft could refuel on their way to asteroids, the moons of Mars and eventually Mars itself.
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