12 February 2008

France's Sarkozy Calls for World Mission to Mars
Reuters Report

KOUROU, France, Feb 11 (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on Monday for a global programme to explore Mars, bringing together European states and more established space powers like the United States and Russia.

Sarkozy said he would ask the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Union to cooperate on a framework for dialogue with Washington and other space powers on a joint initiative.

"Because Mars is there and Mars is accessible to the technologies available to humanity, we cannot refuse to attempt this adventure," Sarkozy told reporters during a visit to the launch site for Ariane rockets in French Guiana.

He said Europe had skills in robotic exploration, transport and technology while the United States, which already has a programme to explore Mars, had the financial means and "technical and scientific competences".

"I am convinced that an exploration programme can only be global, without exclusivity or appropriation by one nation or another... Each will be able to take part with their capabilities, their strengths and their choices," he said.

US President George W Bush has urged NASA to focus on getting people to the moon and to Mars. But NASA's Mars Exploration Program says a manned mission to the red planet is unlikely before the early 2030s.

(Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; writing by Francois Murphy)

Source: Reuters

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