Hugh Pickens writes "NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden says that the future is bright and promises that one day humans will land on Mars. 'American leadership in space will continue for at least the next half-century because we've laid the foundation for success,' the nation's space chief said in a speech at the National Press Club. 'When I hear people say that the final shuttle flight marks the end of U.S. human space flight, you all must be living on another planet. We are not ending human space flight. We are recommitting ourselves to it.' Bolden says within a year private companies can take over the process of sending cargo shipments into orbit and by 2015 industry can take over astronaut transport, freeing NASA to focus on the long-term goals of reaching beyond Earth's shadow. 'Do we want to keep repeating ourselves or do we want to look at the big horizon?' says Bolden. 'My generation touched the moon today, NASA, and the nation, wants to touch an asteroid, and eventually send a human to Mars.' A group of former astronauts and other critics have blasted the agency and the Obama administration for ending the 30-year-old shuttle program, once the cornerstone of NASA. 'NASA's human spaceflight program is in substantial disarray with no clear-cut mission in the offing. We will have no rockets to carry humans to low-Earth orbit and beyond for an indeterminate number of years,' write Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan. 'After a half-century of remarkable progress, a coherent plan for maintaining America's leadership in space exploration is no longer apparent.'"
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