President Bush has outlined plans for a new U.S. space program that would send astronauts back to the moon as early as 2015 and eventually to Mars.
Mr. Bush announced plans to overhaul the nation's space program at U.S. space agency headquarters in Washington Wednesday. Mr. Bush called for an extended human presence on the moon to develop new technologies and to prepare new missions to "new worlds," including Mars.
Mr. Bush announced plans for testing and developing a new spacecraft -- the Crew Exploration Vehicle -- by 2008, for carrying out manned missions to distant worlds.
The president also renewed his commitment to completing work on the International Space Station by 2010 -- after which he said NASA's aging space shuttle fleet will be retired.
He urged other nations to join in new space exploration programs.
Mr. Bush plans to ask for an increase of one billion dollars in NASA's budget over the next five years.
Critics say they are worried about the cost of a major new space initiative during times of record U-S budget deficits.
U.S. astronauts last went to the moon in 1972.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.