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Space Exploration: Issues Concerning the "Vision for Space Exploration"

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On January 14, 2004, President George W. Bush announced new goals for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), directing the agency to focus on returning humans to the Moon by 2020, and eventually sending them to Mars and "worlds beyond." The President invited other countries to join. Most of the funding for this "Vision for Space Exploration" is to be redirected from other NASA activities, including terminating the space shuttle program in 2010, and ending U.S. participation in the International Space Station by 2016. NASA released an implementation plan for the Vision on September 19, 2005, and estimated the cost of returning humans to the Moon by 2018 (NASA's current goal) at $104 billion. An estimate for sending people to Mars was not provided. This report identifies issues Congress has been considering as it debates the President's Vision. This is the final edition of this report; see CRS Issue Brief IB92011, U.S. Space Programs: Civilian, Military, and Commercial, by Marcia S. Smith, for further information.