President Barack Obama wants NASA to send humans to Mars by 2030, he wrote in an opinion piece in CNN on Tuesday, after several private companies have detailed their future plans to travel to the red planet.
Obama's op-ed comes before he is set to host top scientists, engineers, and students at the White House Frontiers Conference in Pittsburgh on Thursday. The conference aims to find ways to improve science, technology, and innovation in the United States and to "find the next frontiers," the president wrote.
SpaceX, one of the most followed private space travel companies, announced plans in late-September to colonize Mars in the next decade. Led by billionaire Elon Musk, SpaceX wants to provide travel to Mars for roughly $200,000.
Obama wrote that to reach the 2030 goal, it must utilize private companies and innovators.
"We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America's story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time," President Obama wrote. "Getting to Mars will require continued cooperation between government and private innovators, and we're already well on our way. Within the next two years, private companies will for the first time send astronauts to the International Space Station."
Further, NASA administrator Charlie Bolden detailed its "NextSTEP" on Tuesday, a program laying the basis for missions to Mars by awarding private companies contracts to design space habitats.
Experts said travel to Mars could take eight months.
Blue Origin, another private space company from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is in the planning stages of a "New Shepard" rocket that is destined for Mars.
Boeing, also planning travel to Mars, thinks it can beat SpaceX to the red planet.
"I'm convinced the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding a Boeing rocket," Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said at a recent Chicago event on innovation, according to Bloomberg.
Obama had previously discussed his deep space travel vision in a 2010 speech at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.