Saturday, December 6, 2003

Bush expected to target moon, Mars: "Raising the prospect of a new space race, George W. Bush is expected to announce soon that the United States will return Americans to the moon, then aim for a manned mission to Mars.

"With the Soviet Union no more and its Russian successor state short of cash, the competitor this time will be China. China's progress in space exploration is beginning to set off alarms in Washington after Beijing said this week that it plans to land a man on the moon by 2020."

"Washington is abuzz with talk Mr. Bush will breathe new life into the U.S. space program in a speech on Dec. 17 marking the centenary of the Wright brothers' first powered and sustained airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C. It is also possible he might save any announcement for his State of the Union speech in January."

"Chinese officials have said that in contrast to the U.S.-Soviet space race, China will move ahead at its own careful, cost-effective pace. 'We will focus on deep-space exploration,' said Luan Enjie, director of China's National Aerospace Bureau.

"Mr. Bush's commitment would give Americans a renewed sense of being on the cutting edge of progress amid their anxiety about terrorism and the struggle to bring Iraq under control. Mr. Kennedy delivered his "bold challenge" [to Congress on May 25, 1961] after the U.S. humiliation in the Bay of Pigs fiasco, which saw Cuban leader Fidel Castro repel a U.S.-backed bid to overthrow him.

"Mr. Bush would also be setting the stage for completing yet more work started by his father, George Bush. … On space, George Bush Sr. marked the 20th anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing with an address on July 20, 1989, calling for a permanent U.S. presence on the moon and, ultimately, a mission to Mars."

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