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Leapin' over the Moon to Mars?

MIT researchers respond to Bush Mars plan

President Bush's announcement on Jan. 14 of a new NASA initiative for sending humans to Mars via a moon base sent reporters scurrying for experts who could comment on the feasibility of such a plan.

Many of the news articles that followed the announcement included commentary by MIT faculty members and researchers. Quotations from a few of those articles are below. Please note that links may expire and/or require registration.

New technologies could aid effort to send astronauts to moon, Mars

To get astronauts to Mars, engineers would have to devise a new flight plan using the moon as a steppingstone. "That's the task which is challenging but doable in the next 10 to 20 years." --Edward Crawley, professor of aeronautics and astronautics and executive director of the Cambridge-MIT Institute, to Alexandre Witze in the Dallas Morning News, Jan. 14.

Space experts both praise and worry about President Bush's plan

"Any astronaut, you scratch our skin and you'll find Mars blood flowing underneath. That's how much I care about it." --Jeffrey Hoffman, professor of the practice in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics who spent 20 years as an astronaut, to Ned Potter of ABC News, Jan. 15.

Bush orders NASA to plan for humans on moon and Mars

Initiative includes a substitute for shuttles

"We have to be certain that returning successfully to the moon does not become the end of the voyage, that we indeed use it as a steppingstone to Mars. Mars is where the scientific action is: the origins of our solar system and sister planets, and the search for life." --Laurence Young, the Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics, to Kevin Coughlin of The Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.), Jan. 15.

Astronaut care

"If we send human beings into space, we want to do everything we can to maintain their health and safety. Space is not friendly to the human body. What we need to do is carefully study the adverse effects of space flight on human physiology, then develop countermeasures, before we send astronauts on such a mission." --Dr. Richard J. Cohen, professor in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and leader of the cardiovascular alterations team in the National Space Biomedical Research Institute. As told to Lisa M. Krieger of the San Jose Mercury News, Jan. 20.

Bush's space plan eyes new generation

MIT, other schools seen expanding roles

"The president doesn't make an announcement like this without study. We have spent part of the last year doing a detailed study ... It's been almost 30 years since we built a new launch system. There is an enormous difference between the skills the nation had during Apollo and now. You have working at NASA now ... a generation that has never built a rocket ... We have been working with this for some time. We are educating students to work for NASA, run these programs, and solve these problems." --Edward Crawley. As told to Bryan Bender of the Boston Globe, Jan. 21.

The work force "is a huge issue for NASA, but also an opportunity. If you are going to have a long-range plan, you want to have a lot of young people involved." --Claude Canizares, associate provost and a space scientist who served for 10 years on the NASA Advisory Council. As told to Bryan Bender of the Boston Globe, Jan. 21.

Of Mars, mice and men: space rodents to test effects of low gravity

"What we're doing is developing a spacecraft that is going to spin to create artificial gravity. The satellite will spin at the rate of about 34 times each minute, which will generate 0.38-g--the same as gravity on Mars." --Paul Wooster of MIT, program manager of the Mars Gravity Biosatellite project, to Karen Miller of, Jan. 20.

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