President Obama published a written article Tuesday on CNN's website, stating that a "clear goal" has been set to send humans to Mars by the 2030s.
The president wrote that the trip to Mars will be the "next chapter of America's story in space," and that the goal would be to "one day remain there for an extended time."
President Obama first said in 2010 at the Kennedy Space Center that he believed that humans could be sent to orbit Mars by the mid-2030s. Now, nearing the end of his presidency six years later, the President has returned to his initial statement.
"This week, we'll convene some of America's leading scientists, engineers, innovators and students in Pittsburgh to dream up ways to build on our progress and find the next frontiers," he said.
Paul D. Ronney, a professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at USC, called this goal a "huge logistical undertaking" that will require "a massive commitment of people, resources and money."
He also noted that the United States has access to "a lot of core technologies for life support and medical monitoring in place, which we didn't have in the 1960s" that will help move deeper space efforts forward.
But getting to Mars will require teamwork between the government and private companies, said the president. There are over 1,000 private companies working on space initiatives in the U.S.
Aerospace manufacturer SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk recently announced his vision to launch a million people to colonize Mars using SpaceX's new Interplanetary Transport System, which would double as a production facility to create propellant for the return home. The SpaceX plans detail the biggest American rocket ever built.
Less than a week after Musk's announcement, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg said that he was convinced that "the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding on a Boeing rocket." The aerospace giant helped build NASA's Saturn V that launched astronauts to the moon.
Within two years, private companies will send astronauts to the International Space Station, said President Obama.
Ronney supported the involvement of private companies and said that "it's a great idea to put a different spin on the space program because so much technology is pushed by private industry. The internet is an example."
President Obama also wrote about the achievements and innovations of government agency NASA, which confirmed evidence of liquid water on Mars as well as evidence of ice on Jupiter's moons last year.
"For the first time, more than 100,000 engineers are graduating from American schools every year, and we're on track to accomplish my goal of training 100,000 excellent new STEM teachers in a decade," wrote Obama.
According to the president, the mission to space will strengthen technological and medical advances. "If we make our leadership in space even stronger in this century than it was in the last, we won't just benefit from related advances in energy, medicine, agriculture and artificial intelligence, we'll benefit from a better understanding of our environment and ourselves."