President Bush announced a new vision for the United States space exploration programme. He has committed the United States to a long-term human and robotic programme to explore the solar system, starting with a return to the Moon that will ultimately enable future exploration of Mars and other destinations.

The president has committed the United States to manned space exploration and also gives NASA a new focus and clear objectives for the foreseeable future.

The major points of the Presidents speech are as follows:

  1. The Space Shuttle will returned to flight. The main purpose of the shuttle will be to help finish the International Space Station and then it will be retired by the end of the decade.
  2. A new manned exploration vehicle to explore beyond Earth. The new spacecraft, the Crew Exploration Vehicle, will be developed and tested by 2008 and wll be in service by 2014.
  3. The United States aims to return to the Moon as early as 2015 and no later than 2020 and use it as a stepping stone for more ambitious missions. The United states aims to send a series of robotic missions to prepare for futurer human exploration. Using the crew exploration vehicle, the US to undertake extended human missions to the moon as early as 2015.
  4. The United States aims to use the Moon as a base for further human space exploration beyond the Moon beginning with Mars. 

This is a very interesting proposal that will have a major impact on space activities throughout the world. Before we can assess the impact on the UK we would like to understand better the impact on other elements of the NASA programme and how that might affect existing collaboration with Europe in space activities.