SEATTLE (Sept. 19) -- The first man on Mars will probably be an atmosphere-sniffing, chemistry-testing robot.
The Clinton administration, in announcing its new space policy today, is putting an end to a Bush administration dream of putting a human exploration team on Mars in the year 2019. That project, with a $500 billion-plus price tag, arrived stillborn when President Bush proposed it on July 20, 1989. No money was ever appropriated.
The new policy commits the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to using robots because they don't require elaborate machinery to produce livable air, food, water and to get rid of waste. One robotic mission to Mars already is scheduled for 1997 and one for 1998.
President Clinton's science adviser, Dr. John Gibbons, was to announce the revised policy today in Washington, the official said.
Bush in 1990 had formulated the goal of putting a person on Mars by the year 2019, providing some of the political impetus behind a $100 billion project to put a permanently manned space station in orbit by the end of this century.
Clinton in 1993 ordered a presidential decision directive to make a broad review of space policy.
The Washington Post in today's [Sept 19] editions quoted a White House document as saying the space station "will support future decisions on the feasibility and desirability of conducting further human exploration."
Representing the first comprehensive revision of U.S. space policy since the Cold War, the policy document was being released in preparation for a December "space summit" that will involve about 15 administration and congressional officials, the Post said.
It emphasizes obtaining new efficiencies in the space program by transferring some activities to the private sector, developing cheaper technologies and consolidating programs.
It also opens the door to purchasing launch services from other countries, calling "free and fair trade" a goal that should be implemented as contracts expire.
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