(CNSNews.com) - President Bush Wednesday unveiled his new space initiative, which includes the goal of completing the International Space Station by 2010 and retiring the space shuttle, which has had more than 30 years of duty.
"We will focus our future research aboard this station on the long-term effects of space travel on human biology," said the president, speaking at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
As part of the new course, NASA will also build the first space vehicle of its kind since the Apollo - a new Crew Exploratory Vehicle, to carry astronauts to the space station and the moon. The Crew Exploratory Vehicle will conduct its first manned mission no later than 2014.
"America has not developed a new vehicle to advance human exploration in space in nearly a quarter century. It is time for America to take the next steps. Today, I announce a new plan to explore space and extend a human presence across our solar system," Bush said.
"The Crew Exploratory Vehicle will be capable of ferrying astronauts and scientists to the space station after the shuttle is retired," Bush explained. "But the main purpose of this spacecraft will be to carry astronauts beyond our orbit to other worlds. This will be the first spacecraft of its kind since the Apollo Command Module."
The third goal of the new space initiative "is to return to the moon by 2020 as the launching point for missions beyond."
"Beginning no later than 2008, we will send a series of robotic missions to the lunar surface to research and prepare for future human exploration," Bush said.
"Using the Crew Exploratory Vehicle, we will undertake extended human missions to the moon as early as 2015, with the goal of living and working there for increasingly extended periods of time," the president added.
To complete the goals Bush outlined, $11 billion of NASA's current five-year $86 billion budget will be reallocated. He also called on Congress to increase the agency's budget by "roughly $1 billion spread over the next five years."
"This increase, along with the refocusing of our space agency, is a solid beginning to meet the challenges and the goals that we set today...Future funding decisions will be guided by the progress we make in achieving these goals," the president said.
Bush acknowledged the "great risks" involved in fulfilling NASA's new objectives, namely the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster "less than one year ago."
"Since the beginning of our space program, America has lost 23 astronauts and one astronaut from an allied nation - men and women who believed in their mission and accepted the dangers," the president said.
"As one family member said, 'the legacy of Columbia must carry on for the benefit of our children and yours.' The Columbia's crew did not turn away from the challenge, and neither will we," Bush said.
"Mankind is drawn to the heavens for the same reason we were once drawn into unknown lands and across the open sea. We choose to explore space, because doing so improves our lives and lifts our national spirit. So let us continue the journey," the president concluded.
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