“Now, I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the Moon first, as previously planned,” he said. “But I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We’ve been there before. Buzz [Aldrin] has been there. There’s a lot more of space to explore, and a lot more to learn when we do; we should set our sights on points beyond, to the near Earth asteroids and reach for Mars.”
Mars Society Response:
“As the first milestone in his allegedly daring program of exploration, Obama called for sending a crew to a near Earth asteroid by 2025.
Such a flight is achievable. To do an asteroid mission, all that is required is a launch vehicle such as the Ares 5, a crew capsule (such as the Orion), and a habitation module similar to that employed on the space station. Had Obama not canceled the Ares 5, we could have used it to perform an asteroid mission by 2016. But the President, while calling for such a flight, actually is terminating the programs that would make it possible.
From a technical point of view, we are much closer today to being able to send humans to Mars than we were to being able to send men to the moon in 1961 when President John F. Kennedy made his speech committing us to that goal – and we were there eight years later. With Kennedy-like commitment, we could have astronauts on the Red Planet within a decade. Yet Obama chose to set that goal for the 2040s, a timeline so hazy as to not require him to actually do anything to realize it. The American people want and deserve a space program that really is going somewhere. To offer that, Obama needs to stop the fakery. That means a program whose effort will commence not in some future administration, but in his own; one whose goal is not Mars in our dreams, but Mars in our time.”