UPI Exclusive: Bush OKs new moon missions

This UPI article goes into greater detail than most on the plans for the Moon and Mars. I didn’t see any of these details in other news reports. Where or if they go to Mars, they will initially only orbit the planet and then come straight home, much the same as the Apollo program.

Under the current plan, sources said, the first lunar landings would carry only enough resources to test advanced equipment that would be employed on voyages beyond the moon. Because the early moon missions would use existing rockets, they could deliver only small equipment packages. So the initial, return-to-the-moon missions essentially would begin where the Apollo landings left off — a few days at a time, growing gradually longer. The human landings could be both preceded and accompanied by robotic vehicles.

The first manned Mars expeditions would attempt to orbit the red planet in advance of landings — much as Apollo 8 and 10 orbited the moon but did not land. The orbital flights would conduct photo reconnaissance of the Martian surface before sending landing craft, said sources familiar with the plan’s details.