We stand at a pivotal moment in space exploration and our ability to improve life on our planet. Humankind is making plans to further extend its reach into the solar system, and NASA is leading the way. Our orbiting outpost, the International Space Station (ISS), is home to a crew of astronauts from across the world conducting research and learning how to live and work in space. Industry partners are now sending cargo missions to the station, and will soon launch astronauts once again from American soil. We have robotic explorers probing diverse regions of the solar system, including one that has entered the vast region of interstellar space. We are developing the aeronautics and space technologies for tomorrow's missions, and we are preparing for a challenging mission to capture and redirect an asteroid for human exploration--a stepping stone to future human exploration of Mars.
At NASA, we must, of necessity, plan for the long term and embrace the uncertainties inherent in exploration as much as we can. That is why we formulate strong strategic plans to guide us in implementing the direction we receive from Congress and the White House. We've just spent a lot of effort updating our plan, and you can read it now at: http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/files/FY2014_NASA_SP_508c.pdf
I hope every NASA employee takes some time to refresh their memory about our overarching vision and the key areas where we are focusing to unfold this new era of exploration.
As I recently testified to the U.S. Congress, NASA's vision of the future is clear. We will continue the human and robotic exploration of space with the long-term goal of sending humans to Mars. Over the next two decades, we will develop and demonstrate the technologies and capabilities needed to send humans to explore the red planet and safely return them to Earth. We will develop new technologies for use in air, space, and here on Earth. We will be a part of a strong, high-tech economy. We will increase our understanding of the universe and our place in it, while caring for and protecting our planet. We will make air travel more efficient, safe, and clean and our workforce will continue to inspire and inform learners of all ages. We will realize this vision in collaboration with our traditional partners in industry, academia, and other national space agencies while seeking the participation of many other segments of the American public.
The work that each of you does every day is essential to all of our successes. I thank you for all the hard work you do every day to keep our strategy and our missions on track and urge you all to familiarize yourself with NASA's 2014 Strategic Plan.