Mountain View, CA, – February 11, 2004 – President Bush has outlined a new vision for the space exploration program that will have humans returning to the Moon as early as 2015 and no later than 2020, and prepare the way for human missions to Mars and beyond.

The Mars Institute strongly supports the human exploration of Mars and considers returning to the Moon beforehand a viable option that could help achieve safer and more productive human operations on Mars. While returning to the Moon is not, technically, a prerequisite for sending humans to Mars and bringing them back safely to Earth, the Mars Institute recognizes that returning to the Moon may be a necessary first step to satisfy broader space policy objectives.

In this context, the Mars Institute views the new space exploration program as a positive opportunity to: 1) prepare for the human exploration of Mars, 2) further the scientific exploration of the Moon, and 3) create an enduring capability for humans to access and operate in Earth-Moon space and beyond. In particular, the Mars Institute supports the idea of developing a new Crew Exploration Vehicle that will help lay the foundation for low Earth orbit access, a return to the Moon, and eventually human missions to Mars.

“I believe the President’s new vision for the space exploration program is a positive first step in an effort to extend the human reach in space and provides NASA with a clear and strong focus in its human space flight program”, said Marc Boucher, Chief Executive Officer of the Mars Institute. “The Institute looks forward to contributing in a meaningful way to the new program in an effort to allow humans to return to the Moon and then explore Mars.”

“The new human space exploration plan could be implemented in a very productive way to support human Mars exploration by ensuring that our return to the Moon remains driven by a focused effort to reach Mars” said Dr. Pascal Lee, Chairman of the Mars Institute. “The return to the Moon should be to human missions to Mars what the Gemini program was to Apollo: an enabling, capability and know-how-building program that had merits of its own but also never lost sight of its ultimate goal”.

The Mars Institute supports NASA’s new mandate and is particularly committed to helping optimize the scientific productivity of a renewed exploration of the Moon and the continued exploration of Mars, and to help further human Moon and Mars exploration planning in particular through terrestrial and lunar analog research.

About the Mars Institute

The Mars Institute is a non-profit public benefit corporation registered and incorporated in both the United States
and Canada whose purpose is to further the scientific study, exploration, and public understanding of Mars.
The Institute:

  • Develops, implements and supports high quality peer-reviewed scientific research about the planet Mars, its present nature, and its climatic, geologic and possibly biologic evolution, including through analog studies (investigations of similarities and differences between the Earth, Mars and other planets);
  • Analyzes, develops and implements concepts, technologies and strategies for the exploration of Mars, by robotic systems and humans;
  • Informs the public on the results, progress, and benefits to humankind of Mars exploration through the development and implementation of educational and public outreach activities.

For more information, please contact:

Marc Boucher, CEO (Email)
Mars Institute
Tel.: +1 (604) 669-3725