NASA chief says US must stick to road map to the Moon

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Washington, Nov 15 : The present chief of NASA has stressed on the importance for the US to stick to the agency's road map to the Moon, even after the change of leadership in January 2009, when Barack Obama takes over the presidency of the country.

According to NASA administrator Mike Griffin, the new government should follow the space policy laid out by President George W Bush and endorsed by the Congress.

The policy includes building the International Space Station, retire the space shuttles, return to the Moon, establish a base and continue the exploration to near-Earth asteroids and Mars.

"Two successive Congresses - one Republican and one Democrat - have strongly endorsed the path NASA is on. I think it's the right path," Griffin said.

"For 35 years since the Nixon administration, we've been on the wrong path. It took the loss of (space shuttle) Columbia and the (accident investigation) report to highlight the strategic issues to get us on the right path," he explained.

"We're there. I personally will not be party to taking us off that path. Someone else may wish to, but I do not," he added.

Griffin's comments come a day after a space advocacy group proposed that the next administration and Congress head to nearby asteroids and Mars instead of focusing on the Moon.

Under the exploration initiative, NASA plans to land a crew on the Moon by 2020, develop a base and continue on to Mars.

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