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The work on the International Space Station will be the focus of the U.S. human space program for the next decade and it will be the first step in preparation for future manned flights to Mars, the head of NASA said.
"ISS is an anchor for the future of human space exploration and major component of our current human space program," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said at the International Space Station and Mars Conference at George Washington University on Wednesday.
"Over at least next ten years, we will continue collaboration with other nations in order to live and work together in space and perform researches and technology demonstrations," Bolden said.
The NASA chief stressed the importance of the ISS as the most realistic model to test life support and other technologies that would ensure successful human exploration of the deep space.
"A journey to Mars will require robot systems, ensuring the crew stays healthy and safe. The station [ISS] is the start of this journey," he said.
Bolden confirmed that a U.S. delegation will travel to Russia on April 12-15 to discuss the extension of ISS service life and future joint projects in space exploration, including the development of a nuclear-powered spaceship.
In a major space policy speech at Kennedy Space Center on April 15, 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama predicted a manned Mars mission to orbit the planet by the mid-2030s, followed by a landing.
The U.S. Congress has approved manned missions to the Moon, followed by asteroid exploration in 2025 and a trip to Mars in the 2030s.
WASHINGTON, April 7 (RIA Novosti)
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