NASA's top priority is to take humans to Mars and the world's premier space agency has said that it is nearly impossible for any private space company to achieve this goal without its support.
A US House Committee meeting was held on Thursday which focused on the Science, Space and Technology. NASA official Charles Bolden was invited to attend the meeting and express his vision for the space agency for the near and far future. During the meeting, Bolden expressed confidence that a manned mission to Mars could be launched by 2030.
Bolden said that reaching Mars and colonizing it is possible because "Mars is the planet that is most like Earth." He added: "No commercial company without the support of NASA and government is going to get to Mars."
Bolden also reasoned out why it is essential for NASA to lead the mission to Mars. He said that a test facility available to the private sector for doing this. This is the logic behind Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), which is expected to be launched in 2020. The aim of the ARM is to put chunk of asteroid into orbit around the moon. NASA is planning to use this to test critical technology, like Solar Electric Propulsion and autonomous robotic technology.
It is notable that private firm SpaceX is also planning to send humans to Mars by mid-2020's without the help of NASA.