The Strange Case of Major General Charles Bolden

by Edward Wright

What does the future hold for NASA and America in space? NASA Administrator Charles Bolden’s statements on that question have shifted noticeably in the last few years.

In February 2010, General Bolden outlined a bold plan that would “enable our path beyond low Earth orbit through development of new launch and space transportation technologies, nimble construction capabilities on orbit, and new operations capabilities.”

“Imagine trips to Mars that take weeks instead of nearly a year; people fanning out across the inner solar system, exploring the Moon, asteroids and Mars nearly simultaneously in a steady stream of firsts…. NASA will accelerate and enhance its support for the commercial spaceflight industry to make travel to low Earth orbit and beyond more accessible and more affordable. Imagine enabling hundreds, even thousands of people to visit or live in low Earth orbit, while NASA firmly focuses its gaze on the cosmic horizon beyond Earth.”

But in August 2012, USA Today reported that, “NASA chief Charles Bolden focused on Mars as the ‘ultimate destination for now’ for human space exploration in a meeting with the USA Today Editorial Board.”

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