The world’s leading space agencies kicked off this year with a bold new plan to put humans on Mars in the coming decades.
At a Jan. 9 meeting of the International Space Exploration Forum in Washington, D.C., countries including the U.S., Japan, China and Russia, as well as the European Union, agreed that putting humans on the red planet should be a longterm joint priority.
Although the group did not decide on a specific date for a manned mission to Mars, the meeting of space-faring nations affirmed the expedition as a serious goal.
“Nations participating in the ISEF recognized that human and robotic space exploration generates benefits for people on Earth, and will be most successful by building on accomplishments and expanding partnerships with the long-term goal of human exploration of Mars,” the ISEF said in a statement.
The agreement came in the same week that U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration announced plans to extend the life of the International Space Station until 2024. Facilitated in part by contracts with private space companies such as SpaceX, the ISS will remain a central hub for space research and experimentation, as the world’s nations gear up to set foot on Mars.
Although the U.S. has already outlined plans to embark upon a major Mars mission in the 2030s, this new international initiative makes the prospect of putting humans on the planet that much more realistic.
“Rather than pursuing disparate paths of discovery, 12 national space agencies have developed a shared roadmap that will lead us to human missions to the surface of Mars,” William J. Burns, U.S. deputy secretary of state, said in a speech at the event.
The next ISEF meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place in 2016 or 2017 in Japan.
Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/01/13/mars-mission/