กก WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- The Bush administration has been
reviewing its space policy and is considering sending Americans back to the moon
after an absence of three decades, US newspapers reported Friday.
An interagency group led by the White House has been working since August on a blueprint for
interplanetary human flight over the next 20 to 30 years to give US space agency
NASA a new missionafter space shuttle Columbia disintegrated on Feb. 1.
Options that have been considered by the
administration includea manned lunar mission, a permanent outpost on the moon
and a human mission to Mars.
"Although much of the scientific and emotional focus
has been on Mars over the past decade, the buzz inside NASA has seemed to shift
toward a return of man to the moon," The Washington Post said in a report.
The era of US lunar exploration began with the
announcement by President John Kennedy in 1961 to land a man on the moon and
return him safely to earth in a decade, highlighted with Neil Armstrong and
Edwin Aldrin becoming the first men ever stepped onto the lunar soil and ended
with the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
Advocates of a revived lunar program argued that the
moon couldbe useful as a base for developing technologies, for astronomical
observations and for human rehearsals for operating in space.
Others, however, found the idea of sending Americans
back to the moon "embarrassing" and "farcical."
"Really, how do you inspire the youth of today with a
challengerepeating feats their grandparents did?" asked Robert Zubrin, president
of the Mars Society.
Writing Friday in The New York Times, Apollo 11 crew
Aldrin said "a moon shot alone seems more like reaching for past glory than
striving for new triumphs."
"Instead, I think the next step in our space program
should be to create a floating launching pad for manned and unmanned missions to
the moon, Mars and beyond," he said.
The National Review magazine reported Wednesday that
Bush may make a major space policy announcement as early as on Dec. 17 in North
Carolina in a speech recognizing the 100th anniversary of the first powered
flight by the Wright brothers.
But White House spokesman Scott McClellan said any
speculationsabout a new US space initiative was premature.
"There are no plans for any policy announcements in
the immediate future, and that would include any upcoming speeches," he told
reporters on Thursday. Enditem