“President Bush today set forth a compelling new vision for future space exploration, including the return of humans to the Moon before 2020 as an enabling step toward exploration of Mars and other destinations. The Moon’s location and natural resources make it a unique stepping stone on the critical path to further planetary exploration.

“The President’s vision calls for a sustained program emphasizing robotics to gather information and serve as an indispensable component of human exploration. The plan entails a deliberate step-by-step development of infrastructure, starting with the Moon, that will reduce the cost and risk of each successive stage of human and robotic exploration.

“The vision is a pragmatic one. It acknowledges realities of cost and risk, and refocuses existing funding commitments to align with the new direction. It leverages existing knowledge and platforms, including the International Space Station, and takes maximum advantage of rapidly advancing technology in robotics, computing, and other emerging fields such as nanotechnology.

“President Bush has established a strong and visionary framework for sustained engagement with our space environment. It is a vision that will catalyze U.S. creativity, innovation and technological leadership. It will inspire a new generation to build upon the achievements of the past. It is a fitting monument to the extraordinary human accomplishments and sacrifices that have opened the way to interplanetary space.”