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Obama talks up NASA’s vision for Mars

Mars orbital complex
An artist’s conception shows one configuration for an orbital habitat complex suitable for Mars. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

President Barack Obama is throwing a spotlight on NASA’s plan for Mars exploration – and habitation – in advance of this week’s White House-backed conference on the frontiers of technology.

“We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America’s story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time,” Obama said in an essay published today on CNN.com.

The president’s space vision statement comes in the wake of SpaceX billionaire founder Elon Musk’s unveiling of a plan that could theoretically start putting settlers on Mars before NASA astronauts get there.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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