Europe says it's going to the Moon instead of Mars.

New York (AirGuideBusiness - Business & Industry Features) The European Space Agency has become increasingly bold with its lunar preferences. NASA has made it clear for the last half decade that it considers Mars the next destination for its astronauts. Nevertheless, since President Obama took the Moon off the table during a 2010 space policy speech, potential partners for NASA's "Journey to Mars" have fallen by the wayside. Earlier this decade, both China and Russia, the two nations now capable of launching humans into space, signaled their intentions to first explore the Moon. Now they have been joined by arguably NASA's most important partner in the coming years, the European Space Agency (ESA). In a new video titled "The Moon Awakens," the agency says it will take lessons learned from the International Space Station and team with other interested partners to return humans to Earth's natural satellite by the end of the next decade. The discovery of lunar water has changed everything for human exploration. "This new exploration will be achieved not in competition, as in the past, but through peaceful, international cooperation," the narrator says. "Eventually we will see a sustained infrastructure for research and exploration where humans will live and work for prolonged periods. Here we will put into practice the lessons of the International Space Station, to establish a facility akin to those we see in Antarctica today. In the future the moon can become a place where the nations of the world work together." The only nod the video makes to exploring Mars is in characterizing the lunar surface as "a place where we can learn to move onward into the Solar System." The video comes at a critical time for NASA with the United States entering into a presidential election year. Although space has played almost no role in the political discourse during the primaries, a new president will bring a new NASA administrator, one who is perhaps not as committed to President Obama's avoid-the-Moon strategy. Several of the leading Republican contenders, Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both played an important role in passing a recent law that allowed US companies to mine lunar resources, including water ice that could be converted into fuel. NASA officials, including Bill Gerstenmaier, chief of the agency's...

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