Nixon and the Space Shuttle

Source: NASA imagine showing Space shuttle Columbia lifting off from Launch Pad 39A on April 12, 1981, to begin STS-1.

Earlier his week NASA highlighted the 50 year anniversary of President Nixon’s decision to initiate a space shuttle program to follow the success of the Apollo Moon missions. The story states:

In January 1972, he directed NASA to develop and build a reusable space transportation system, commonly known as the space shuttle. The reusability of the shuttle’s components was expected to provide regular access to space to many customers, while at the same time reducing costs.

The space shuttle was proposed by the National Aeronautics and Space Council, which also proposed a trip to Mars. The Council’s report states:

As a focus for the development of new capability, we recommend the United States accept the long-range option or goal of manned planetary exploration with a manned Mars mission before the end of this century as the first target.

While the space shuttle was eventually operational by 1981, we still await a clear timeline for a trip to Mars. NASA said it will start with a trip back to the Moon first. Let’s hope we do not need to wait another 50 years before a manned trip to Mars.