The Planetary Society, long an advocate of a vigorous, international program of Mars exploration, strongly supports NASA's series of planned missions outlined today in their description of a new Mars program. At the same time the Society is disappointed with what was not said -- the lack of long term commitments to either a permanent robotic presence or human missions on Mars.
Dr. Louis Friedman, Executive Director of The Planetary Society, made the following comment regarding NASA's goals for Mars:
"The US government made a national space policy for a 'permanent robotic presence on Mars,' that now seems lost. More disappointing in NASA's plan is the failure to connect the robotic program to the popular interest in eventual human exploration of Mars. NASA's Office of Space Science has done a good -- but limited -- job with their new plan. NASA and the European partners are planning great missions to Mars, but they are still missing the opportunity to connect to the public interest in sending human explorers to the Red Planet. Until they do, the program will continue to be underfunded and less purposeful than it should be."
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