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It wasn't quite as ambitious of a declaration of President John F. Kennedy promising to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, but yesterday President Obama predicted that astronauts will land on Mars within his lifetime.
"We'll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history," the president said. "By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it."
The President made the prediction yesterday while visiting Cape Canaveral, shortly before heading to Miami. The speech came as many in NASA were worried that the future of the space program may be downsized as missions are canceled and workers are laid off.
The president said he is "100 percent committed to the mission of NASA and its future. The bottom line is nobody is more committed to manned space flight, the human exploration of space, than I am. But we've got to do it in a smart way."