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Mission: Moon & Mars

Aired January 14, 2004 - 15:00   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up this hour, President Bush moves his ambitious space plan to the launch pad.
In a speech at NASA headquarters a few blocks from where I sit in Washington, he will announce details of his multiyear, multibillion- dollar plan. But, of course, not everyone has stars in their eyes. A debate on the issue is out there.

We'll also take a look at lunar litter. What did previous missions leave behind? Interesting facts to know and tell.

But, first, what exactly does President Bush have in mind for the moon and beyond?


O'BRIEN (voice-over): For 30 years, NASA has been flying in circles, and now it's getting a whole new direction. The Bush plan, in a nutshell: finish the International Space Station, retire the aging space shuttle fleet, and then move on to the moon first and then ultimately to Mars.

MARK SCHLATHER, PROSPACE: I don't think it's dead on arrival. It will be debated. It's a question of how much they are going to ask for and how soon.

O'BRIEN: To start the ball rolling, high-ranking administration sources say they will ask Congress four 5 percent annual increases in NASA's $15 billion budget for the next five years.

The proposal calls for putting the space shuttle in museums by 2010. NASA will then put all of its eggs into a new crew exploration vehicle, which could reach the moon possibly by 2013 to test technology and offer a way station to the red planet, which could loom as a destination 10 years later. Is it enough?

SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: The first year after Kennedy announced the Apollo program, the NASA budget was doubled. And in the second year, it doubled, again. That's not realistic today. But 5 percent a year increases is not going to get us to the moon by 2013.

O'BRIEN: But the initial goal is to simply design and build a successor to the shuttle, a class of rockets and spacecraft able to carry humans, though not cargo, beyond low Earth orbit, so-called crew exploration vehicles, which may or may not be reusable, as the shuttle is. SEAN O'KEEFE, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: It's going to look totally different than what the space shuttle looks like today. And so we've got to get about the business of developing that capability right away.

O'BRIEN: O'Keefe says decisions on destinations and how to pay for those missions will be made once the new space transportation system is developed.

O'KEEFE: It's going to cost ultimately, depending on what you want the outcome to be, as whatever that price tag is. But between now and then, the objective is to try to find the means to provide the wherewithal to make any of those debates possible.


O'BRIEN: And we're told the president has arrived at NASA headquarters. He'll spend a little bit of time greeting some of the senior officials there, as well as many members of the glory days of NASA, the Mercury, Gemini and Apology missions, some of those astronauts there to greet the president.

Let's run through the proposal in a little more detail for you. First of all, this talk about the moon, think about the moon in this case not necessarily as a destination, but as a stepping stone to longer exploration. The idea is to have robotic missions, a series of them, sustained, beginning by 2008, and then, as this crew exploration vehicle is developed, sustained missions to the lunar surface by 2015. The idea is to create a test bed for a manned mission to Mars or perhaps an asteroid, something a little more long-distance.

The point is, the moon is more reachable and a good place to test out some of these ideas and thoughts about how to do it. Now, about Mars and the solar system, the idea is to continue the robotic missions. We've been seeing the success on that with the Spirit rover, which overnight tonight will begin its jaunt across the Gusev Crater is find the possible signs of ancient water on Mars.

NASA will continue those robotic missions, many of them designed to look for outright evidence of ancient life or maybe present life beneath the surface of Mars. That will help as NASA tries to choose a potential landing site folks a human expedition.

In addition, robotic missions to asteroids, as well as Jupiter's moons, which are of great interests to scientists, and then a telescope that is extremely powerful and will look well beyond our solar system for Earth-like planets and Earth-like solar systems. And all of this, set in that context, lays the groundwork for human expeditions to Mars. No date certain on all of that.

But, nevertheless, that's the big picture on the plan in a little more detail. Well, is it a brave new proposal or a waste of taxpayers' dollars? The president's new space initiative has already touched a nerve in a time of growing budget deficits.

Here to talk about it, Andrew Chaikin, who is the author of many books about space, including the best one I've read about the Apollo days, "A Man on the Moon: The Triumphant Story of the Apollo Space Program," and Alex Roland, a history professor at Duke University, a former NASA historian.

Alex, let's begin with you.

Is the president on the right track here? Is this a good idea?

ALEX ROLAND, DUKE UNIVERSITY: I think he's on exactly the wrong track, for two reasons.

First of all, we can't afford it. It's going to cost much more than this 5 percent increment in the NASA budget that they're talking about. Even if the country could afford it, it's not a good idea. Anything we want to do in space, we can do now more effectively, more efficiently and surely more safely with automated spacecraft. There's no reason to be sending people to either the moon or Mars.

O'BRIEN: You're minimizing, I guess, the value of the human being in the loop. I suppose we could make an argument that there would be good robots that could teach history classes at Duke as well.

ROLAND: What is it that the humans are going to do on either the surface of the moon or the surface of Mars that automated spacecraft can't do? They can't see anything that the machines can't. They can't hear anything. They can't feel anything that the machines can't.

About all humans can do is taste and smell. And if they take off their helmets to do that, they're going to be sadly surprised.

O'BRIEN: Andy Chaikin, if all you can do is see, you can't smell, you can't taste, why not just keep sending the robots?

ANDREW CHAIKIN, AUTHOR, "A MAN ON THE MOON": Well, you know, Alex and I are old friends, so I hope he doesn't take any of this personally, but I think he's dead wrong on all counts.

There is no substitute for the power of the human mind and human hands in the process of discovery. And Alex would be interested to know that the people who built and are controlling and are doing the science with the magnificent Spirit rover that is now on Mars disagree with him, because those people also believe that, after you've done your preliminary work with robots, you must get humans in the loop.

And we're not going to Mars tomorrow. And we're not going to the moon tomorrow. There are a lot of precursor missions coming up with robots. And then, after they've found out everything that we can get from that, the pace of discovery when you put humans in the situation will increase dramatically, exponentially.

O'BRIEN: Alex, let's take a side for just a moment, and go ahead. You can respond if you like to what


ROLAND: Well, first of all, I know one person on the JPL team who's voiced that opinion. I doubt that very many do.

And whenever we raise this issue, no one can tell me exactly what those people are going to do walking around on Mars that the machines can't do. And remember, those machines are controlled by people on Earth.

O'BRIEN: Well, let me just ask you a hypothetical.


O'BRIEN: Wouldn't it be easier for a person on the surface to drill down deep into that crust to look for perhaps an aquifer that might be there?

ROLAND: Anybody who's ever worn one of those spacesuits and tried to get around and move in them or who watched the Apollo astronauts tried to get around on the moon wouldn't believe that.

We can design machines to do that more efficiently at one-tenth of the cost. Additionally, the machines can go places and stay longer that humans cannot. As soon as we send humans, the mission changes from exploration to getting the people back alive.

O'BRIEN: Andy?

CHAIKIN: I think Alex is showing himself, unfortunately, to be very out of step.

And I think that we're talking about exploration where you don't know what you're going to find. That's what humans are for, to take advantage of the unexpected. I also, having spoken to all of the men who walked on the moon, can tell you that they vouch very highly for the value of human observers on another world.

And we don't know how good the technology is going to be in 10 or 20 years to improve the spacesuits, to make it more safe, easier to do. So, I just can't understand this sort of backward-looking view that Alex has presented.

O'BRIEN: Professor Roland, let me just ask you this. Let's take aside for a moment the potential scientific discovery and just talk about this as something that speaks to our civilization and our society.

In the sense that exploration does inspire particularly young people and might very well spur them on to educational goals they might not otherwise pursue, seeing a human being in that place, as opposed to a robot?

ROLAND: Seeing the human being is what's old-fashioned, as Andy puts it. We use machine in our scientific laboratories, our technological laboratories. We use them in industry now. We use them everywhere.

You no longer have to send people to do this research. You get much more exploration, better exploration and safer exploration with machines.

O'BRIEN: Well, but maybe it's the safety, though, that makes it less intriguing to people. Perhaps it is that element of risk that is of interest, right?

ROLAND: Sure. Sure. And if you want a romantic adventure, this is one. But it costs hundreds of billions of dollars for romantic adventures, a very high price.

O'BRIEN: Andy, is it a romantic adventure? And if so, is it worth the money?

CHAIKIN: Of course it's a romantic adventure, but it's also a spectacular intellectual adventure.

And when we keep talking about this number of hundreds of billions of dollars, that's over a very, very long timeframe. And I refer to a quote that Neil Armstrong, said, which is that a human can be amused and amazed and a robot can do neither. There will never be a substitute for a human voice coming to us from a place where no one has ever been before.

And that lit a spark in me that still powers me today. And I'm very excited for all the people, the young people today who are going to be powered by this new space age that we are about to see unfold.

O'BRIEN: And before we get back to Professor Roland, I want to remind our viewers, we are waiting for the president to begin his speech. It's going to happen in about five minutes time.

We'll, of course, bring it to you live.

Alex Roland, this whole notion of exploration inspiring people, I don't want to dwell on that too much, but when you consider the grand scheme of the U.S. budget, the NASA budget some $15 billion, a fraction of 1 percent, what is being discussed here are moderate increases above and beyond that. Isn't this something that we as a society can afford just for that very romance and excitement that you scoff at?

ROLAND: Yes, but this $15 billion budget and all the multiples of it that President Bush is going to announce, of increasing 5 percent even over 20 or 30 years, won't begin to pay for a Mars mission. It is much more expensive than they are letting on.

Additionally, the United States already spends more in space than all the rest of the world combined. We're doing quite well without a dramatic increase in this budget.

O'BRIEN: Andy Chaikin, have you really crunched the numbers? I know you're a writer and a historian. And I don't know that you've actually done the numbers on this. But everybody hearkens back to the Apollo model. And that's not a very apt model, is it?

CHAIKIN: Well, I'm not a budget guy, so I don't even want to begin to offer an opinion on how you convert Apollo dollars to this new program.

But all I can tell you is that, when people say that they're worried about the money, I think that they need to look at how much NASA spends compared to all the other things we do in the government, which is many, many times what we spend on space exploration. And, by the way, I am a guy who comes out of not only manned space activities, but I was involved in the first unmanned landing on Mars. I got my training as a planetary geologist.

So you don't have to convince me of the value of robotic exploration. The great thing about this plan is that it is a capability. It is the ability to go back in the exploration business, not only with robots, but with humans. And I think it's going to make us a better country and it's going to enrich our lives tremendously and it's going to be worth it.

O'BRIEN: Well, now, Professor Roland, as we wait -- once again, we want to remind you, the president is expected to speak in about three minutes time. We're going to bring that to you as soon as it happens.

But we haven't been talking, Professor Roland, about the potential commercial gain that might be out there. There are all sorts of ideas that have been floated around, if you will, in this case, including mining things like helium 3 from the surface of the moon, which might make it easier to conduct a certain sort of fusion, or perhaps solar collectors on the moon that might be able to beam power back to Earth via microwaves, or perhaps even mining asteroids.

There are all kinds of notions like this which people might say sound really far-flung and the stuff of science fiction, but until you try, how would you know?

ROLAND: well, first of all, you don't need to send people to do any of that.

And, secondly, if the surface of the moon were paved with gold, it would cost more to go get it than it would be worth here on Earth. We cannot underestimate the astronomical cost of flying these missions that are being proposed.

O'BRIEN: Andy, would you go along with that? I mean, that model which people bring back, that it comes out to about $10,000 a pound to get anything up into space. And that is a big number.


CHAIKIN: That's a very big number. And if I were a king, I would direct much of NASA's brain power and energies at lowering that cost.

However, I do think that the challenges of going to Mars are going to bring us new technologies that could, in fact, ameliorate that situation. And I think the most important thing is to have a new direction that is based on scientific discovery, so that the whole space program is moving in that direction and that we gain the benefits that will come out of working towards those goals.

O'BRIEN: And we want to check in with Suzanne Malveaux at the White House in just a second.

But before we do that, Professor Roland, I want to ask you this. The very fact that we're having this discussion, we've been talking so much about this, that in and of itself says something about the value of this, doesn't it?

ROLAND: Oh, no, this discussion is a disaster, because what it's doing and what I think it was intended to do is mask the fact that, when the Columbia crashed, the biggest problem NASA was facing was a bankrupt space station, which we cannot afford to complete.

Now we have a smaller shuttle fleet, a constrained budget. And the White House is distracting attention from the fact that it doesn't know how to fix the space station.

O'BRIEN: All right, distractions, potentially.

Let's talk to one of our White House correspondents about just that and the potential motivations down Pennsylvania Avenue.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is there. She's been talking to folks in the administration about where this idea came from.

And why now, in the midst of a reelection campaign, would the Bush White House want to bring an idea like this out, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, they certainly anticipated this debate and this controversy over the program.

They gave us this afternoon a list of some of the details, saying, look, there are a lot of aspects of this that are very positive, heart pacemakers, insulin pumps, things like that that come from space exploration. But, at the same time, they are defending themselves, saying, look, this is something that we can do. This is just a down payment. They gave us some figures regarding the budget here. They said it's $12 billion over the next five years that they believe this is going to cost.

But they bring up the point that $11 billion of that already is from NASA's budget. That's just to be reallocated to this program. Also, they say that it's going to require a $1 billion increase in NASA's budget next year. This essentially translates into about a 5 percent increase for the NASA budget over the next three years.

Now, Miles, you know, Bush Sr., it was 1989 when he introduced a dramatic program to send a man to Mars. That was summarily dismissed by Congress when they found out the cost, nearly $500 billion. Some believe it was a boondoggle, this administration very much anticipating the kind of criticism and questions that are coming from many people.

And the political aspect, of course, is something that many people are talking about in Washington. This is at a time where some people feel that, because of the shuttle crash, that it's important for NASA to prove that American taxpayers are going to good projects, good use. And the second thing, of course, is that you take a look at some of these states, Florida, Texas, as well as California, all of them, intricately, their economies linked to the U.S. space program, all of those states critical to a Bush reelection -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Suzanne, I suppose, looking back at the Sr. Bush's proposal in 1989, that there is one key difference that I have noted.

And that is, the proposal was not even cooked up when then President Bush made the announcement. He said let's go to Mars, and, NASA, give me a report. They came back with thing called the 90-day study, which, you know, was like a novel, an Asimov novel on how to get to Mars. This time around, NASA has been heavily involved in the proposal all along. I guess that makes it a different animal at this point, doesn't it?

MALVEAUX: It does, because you think about what has happened over the last six months or so. This is something that the vice president has been very much involved with behind the scenes, working with NASA's administrator, Sean O'Keefe. You know Sean O'Keefe, of course, looking at the dollar figures as well.

This is not something that has just come about suddenly. But the critics are saying, look, you're looking at election year here. This is not something that will be accomplished any time soon, if accomplished at all. Perhaps this is just something that is a political stunt. That's what the president's critics are saying.

But the administration says this is really something that is going to inspire the American people. It is simply a down payment on this program and is something worth going forward.

O'BRIEN: All right, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux at the White House.

We'll be checking in with her in just a little bit.

We're waiting for President Bush, as we told you, still no sign of him there at NASA headquarters. There, we see some pictures of the room where all this will take place. He'll be making his announcement about the next mission to the moon. And we, of course, will bring it to you live as soon as it happens.

And from golf balls, to rolls of film, to dusty old boots, we've launched our own search for who's been left behind on the moon. It's an interesting little bit of space trivia.

Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: Continuing our special now, "Mission: the Moon & Mars, live pictures right now, NASA headquarters, just a few blocks from where I sit right now, where NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe is now taking the stage, the president of the United States there. The introductions will come very shortly. As we listen or watch those introductions -- the president's not going to speak just this moment -- I want to ask you -- Allen Lichtman, historian from American University has been listening to all this debate.

Professor Lichtman, what sort of rhetoric does a president hope to achieve at this moment?

ALLEN LICHTMAN, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Soaring, inspirational rhetoric.

When Kennedy talked about going to the moon, it wasn't isolated. It was part of his mission to get the country moving again, to stop losing the initiative to the Russians in the Cold War, but, in fact, for the United States to start winning. That kind of inspirational rhetoric, a rhetoric which does let us slip the surly bonds not just of Earth, but of our daily lives, and present something more dramatic that is of a long-term, significant nature. That's what he's got to do.

O'BRIEN: All right, Allen Lichtman, let's listen to NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, as he begins the introduction.


O'KEEFE: The president tempered us all with his eloquent words about the legacy of these remarkable people.

A week ago, after the Mars exploration rover Spirit successfully landed in Gusev Crater, he congratulated and entertained our hard- working and sleep-deprived Mars exploration team. And today, we are honored that the president is here to provide his vision for America's continued leadership in that exploration of the space frontier and to give us his charge to carry out that vision.

But first, there's a member of the NASA family who would like to extend his greetings.

Please welcome Mike Foale, the commander of Expedition 8 and the NASA science officer aboard the International Space Station.


MICHAEL FOALE, NASA ASTRONAUT: Good afternoon. I'm Michael Foale, Expedition 8 commander and science officer aboard the International Space Station.

I would love to be there with you, but when you're flying 240 miles above the ground and moving at more than 17,000 miles per hour, it's difficult to drop in for a quick visit.


FOALE: I can't tell you how proud we are to be part of a project that's the most advanced technology and engineering feat in the history of exploration. Even as a child, I knew I wanted to be an explorer. And while I have flown in space six times, I know that I'm just one chapter in an ongoing story of discovery. I feel fortunate to be part of this agency's historic legacy. But I also know that NASA's journey is just beginning. On behalf of the 8th Expedition to the International Space Station, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to NASA today.


O'KEEFE: Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States.


Thank you all.


BUSH: Thank you. Please be seated.

Thanks for the warm welcome. I'm honored to be with the men and women of NASA.

I want to thank those of you have come in person. I welcome those who are listening by video.

This agency and the dedicated professionals who serve it have always reflected the finest values of our country: daring, discipline, ingenuity and unity in the pursuit of great goals.

America is proud of our space program. The risk-takers and visionaries of this agency have expanded human knowledge, have revolutionized our understanding of the universe and produced technological advances that have benefited all of humanity.

Inspired by all that has come before and guided by clear objectives, today we set a new course for America's space program. We will give NASA a new focus and vision for future exploration.

We will build new ships to carry man forward into the universe, to gain a new foothold on the moon and to prepare for new journeys to the worlds beyond our own.

I am comfortable in delegating these new goals to NASA under the leadership of Sean O'Keefe. He's doing an excellent job.


I appreciate Commander Mike Foale's introduction. I'm sorry I couldn't shake his hand.


BUSH: Perhaps, Commissioner, you'll bring him by -- Administrator, you'll bring him by the Oval Office when he returns so I can thank him in person.

I also know he is in space with his colleague, Alexander Kaleri, who happens to be a Russian, a cosmonaut. I appreciate the joint efforts of the Russians with our country to explore.

I want to thank the astronauts who are with us, the courageous special entrepreneurs who set such a wonderful example for the young of our country.


And we got some veterans with us today. I appreciate the astronauts of yesterday who are with us as well, who inspired the astronauts of today to serve our country.

I appreciate so very much the members of Congress being here. Tom Delay is here, leading a House delegation. Senator Nelson is here from the Senate.

I am honored that you all have come. I appreciate your interest in this subject. It is a subject that is...


It's a subject that's important to this administration. It's a subject that's mighty important to the country and to the world.

Two centuries ago, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left St. Louis to explore the new lands acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. They made that journey in the spirit of discovery to learn the potential of the vast new territory and to chart the way for others to follow.

America has ventured forth into space for the same reasons. We've undertaken space travel because the desire to explore and understand is part of our character. And that quest has brought tangible benefits that improve our lives in countless ways.

The exploration of space has led to advances in weather forecasting, in communications, in computing, search and rescue technology, robotics and electronics.

BUSH: Our investment in space exploration helped to create our satellite telecommunications network and the Global Positioning System.

Medical technologies that help prolong life, such as the imaging processing used in CAT scanners and MRI machines, trace their origins to technology engineered for the use in space.

Our current programs and vehicles for exploring space have brought us far, and they have served us well.

The space shuttle has flown more than a 100 missions. It has been used to conduct important research and to increase the sum of human knowledge. Shuttle crews and the scientists and engineers who support them have helped build the International Space Station.

Telescopes, including those in space, have revealed more than 100 planets in the last decade alone. Probes have shown us stunning images of the rings of Saturn and the outer planets of our solar system. Robotic explorers have found evidence of water, a key ingredient for life on Mars and on the moons of Jupiter.

At this very hour, the Mars exploration rover Spirit is searching for evidence of life beyond the Earth.

Yet for all these successes, much remains for us to explore and to learn.

In the past 30 years, no human being has set foot on another world or ventured farther up into space than 386 miles, roughly the distance from Washington, D.C., to Boston, Massachusetts.

America has not developed a new vehicle to advance human exploration in space in nearly a quarter century.

It is time for America to take the next steps.

BUSH: Today I announce a new plan to explore space and extend a human presence across our solar system. We will begin the effort quickly, using existing programs and personnel. We'll make steady progress, one mission, one voyage, one landing at a time.

Our first goal is to complete the International Space Station by 2010. We will finish what we have started. We will meet our obligations to our 15 international partners on this project.

We will focus our future research aboard this station on the long-term effects of space travel on human biology. The environment of space is hostile to human beings. Radiation and weightlessness pose dangers to human health. And we have much to learn about their long-term effects before human crews can venture through the vast voids of space for months at a time.

Research on board the station and here on Earth will help us better understand and overcome the obstacles that limit exploration. Through these efforts, we will develop the skills and techniques necessary to sustain further space exploration.

To meet this goal, we will return the space shuttle to flight as soon as possible, consistent with safety concerns and the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.

The shuttle's chief purpose over the next several years will be to help finish assembly of the International Space Station. In 2010, the space shuttle, after nearly 30 years of duty, will be retired from service.

Our second goal is to develop and test a new space craft, the crew exploration vehicle, by 2008, and to conduct the first manned mission no later than 2014.

BUSH: The crew exploration vehicle will be capable of ferrying astronauts and scientists to the space station after the shuttle is retired. But the main purpose of this spacecraft will be to carry astronauts beyond our orbit to other worlds. This will be the first spacecraft of its kind since the Apollo command module.

Our third goal is to return to the moon by 2020, as the launching point for missions beyond.

Beginning no later than 2008, we will send a series of robotic missions to the lunar surface to research and prepare for future human exploration.

Using the crew exploration vehicle, we will undertake extended human missions to the moon as early as 2015, with the goal of living and working there for increasingly extended periods of time.

Eugene Cernan, who is with us today, the last man to set foot on the lunar surface. He said this as he left: "We leave as we came and, god willing, as we shall return, with peace, and hope for all mankind."

America will make those words come true.


Returning to the moon is an important step for our space program. Establishing an extended human presence on the moon could vastly reduce the cost of further space exploration, making possible ever more ambitious missions.

Lifting heavy spacecraft and fuel out of the Earth's gravity is expensive.

BUSH: Spacecraft assembled and provisioned on the moon could escape its far-lower gravity using far less energy and thus far less cost.

Also the moon is home to abundant resources. Its soil contains raw materials that might be harvested and processed into rocket fuel or breathable air.

We can use our time on the moon to develop and test new approaches and technologies and systems that will allow us to function in other, more challenging, environments.

The moon is a logical step toward further progress and achievement.

With the experience and knowledge gained on the moon, we will then be ready to take the next steps of space exploration: human missions to Mars and to worlds beyond.

(APPLAUSE) Robotic missions will serve as trailblazers, the advanced guard to the unknown. Probes, landers and other vehicles of this kind continue to prove their worth, sending spectacular images and vast amounts of data back to Earth.

Yet the human thirst for knowledge ultimately cannot be satisfied by even the most vivid pictures or the most detailed measurements. We need to see and examine and touch for ourselves. And only human beings are capable of adapting to the inevitable uncertainties posed by space travel.

As our knowledge improves, we'll develop new power generation, propulsion, life support and other systems that can support more distant travels.

BUSH: We do not know where this journey will end. Yet we know this: Human beings are headed into the cosmos.


And along this journey, we'll make many technological breakthroughs. We don't know yet what those breakthroughs will be. But we can be certain they'll come and that our efforts will be repaid many times over.

We may discover resources on the moon or Mars that will boggle the imagination, that will test our limits to dream.

And the fascination generated by further exploration will inspire our young people to study math and science and engineering and create a new generation of innovators and pioneers.

This will be a great and unifying mission for NASA. And we know that you'll achieve it.

I've directed Administrator O'Keefe to review all of NASA's current space flight and exploration activities and direct them toward the goals I have outlined.

I'll also form a commission of private- and public-sector experts to advise on implementing the vision that I've outlined today. This commission will report to me within four months of its first meeting.

I'm today naming former Secretary of the Air Force Pete Aldrich to be the chair of the commission.


Thank you for being here today, Pete.

He has tremendous experience in the Department of Defense and the aerospace industry. And he is going to begin this important work right away.

We'll invite other nations to share the challenges and opportunities of this new era of discovery. The vision I outline today is a journey, not a race.

BUSH: And I call on other nations to join us on this journey, in the spirit of cooperation and friendship.

Achieving these goals requires a long-term commitment. NASA's current five-year budget is $86 billion. Most of the funding we need for the new endeavors will come from re-allocating $11 billion from within that budget.

We need some new resources, however. I will call upon Congress to increase NASA's budget by roughly a billion dollars spread over the next five years.

This increase, along with the refocusing of our space agency, is a solid beginning to meet the challenges and the goals that we set today.

This is only a beginning. Future funding decisions will be guided by the progress that we make in achieving these goals.

We begin this venture knowing that space travel brings great risks. The loss of the space shuttle Columbia was less than one year ago.

Since the beginning of our space program, America has lost 23 astronauts and one astronaut from an allied nation, men and women who believed in their mission and accepted dangers.

As one family member said: The legacy of Columbia must carry on for the benefit of our children and yours.

Columbia's crew did not turn away from the challenge, and neither will we.


Mankind is drawn to the heavens for the same reason we were once drawn into unknown lands and across the open sea. We choose to explore space because doing so improves our lives and lifts our national spirit.

So let us continue the journey.

May God bless.


O'BRIEN: The president of the United States at NASA headquarters, addressing the headquarters location, as well as all the NASA centers, indicating a new vision for the space agency's manned space flight program. Offering up additional funding and focusing existing programs toward a very specific goal. And the production and design of a new vehicle system to replace the space shuttle, and to do things the space shuttle cannot do, which is to say leave lower Earth orbit on a journey to the moon first, to set up camp on a sustained basis to learn more about what it is like to live off the planet and then set the stage as a stepping stone for missions that go even longer, perhaps even to Mars, perhaps to an asteroid.

In any case, as many have been saying here today, the devil lies in the details. And as you search for the heavens, Mr. Bush saying, it's not a race any longer, it's a journey. It's a journey we'll be telling you all about here on CNN every step of the way.


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