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Obama pledges to send humans to Mars by the 2030s

President Barack Obama said Tuesday the government will work with private companies to put humans on Mars by the 2030s and eventually settle humans on the Red Planet for “an extended time.”

In an op-ed published by CNN, Obama applauded the government’s efforts to work with private companies, which he said are needed to achieve the “clear goal” of putting humans on another planet’s surface.

“Getting to Mars will require continued cooperation between government and private innovators, and we’re already well on our way,” he wrote.

Private companies will work with the government to build habitats for astronauts working for long periods of time in deep space, Obama wrote, and prepare them for missions on Mars, 33.9 million miles away.

“Just five years ago, US companies were shut out of the global commercial launch market,” he added. “Today, thanks to groundwork laid by the men and women of NASA, they own more than a third of it.”

The op-ed is not the first mention Obama has made of his ambition to put humans on Mars around the 2030s. In a 2010 speech at the Kennedy Space Center setting out his space policy, Obama set forth several long-term ambitions for NASA, including a human landing on Mars by 2030 and astronauts on asteroids in the solar system.

“By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth,” he said at the time, adding that he expected “a landing on Mars will follow.”

Obama’s op-ed Tuesday was stronger in its pledge, calling a Mars mission “vital to the next chapter of America’s story in space” and suggesting that astronauts would “one day remain there for an extended time.”

“[I]nstead of eagerly awaiting the return of our intrepid explorers, we’ll know that because of the choices we make now, they’ve gone to space not just to visit, but to stay — and in doing so, to make our lives better here on Earth,” Obama wrote.

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