Space 2020 - what NASA will do next

Source New Scientist

Astronauts digging into an asteroid for samples to send back to Earth. Experimental robots on the moon, paving the way for extraterrestrial refueling stations and for astronauts "living off the land". Commercial space taxis ferrying crew members to and from the International Space Station, while a "plasma thruster" - a precursor to engines that will eventually send astronauts to Mars - undergoes tests in space. All this could be happening a decade from now, following a change of direction for NASA signaled by the White House last week. The Obama administration has said it wants NASA to scrap the Constellation program, which would have taken astronauts to the moon and Mars. The decision could mark one of the most significant shifts since the agency was set up in 1958. Though NASA has not yet been set formal new goals, the agency's administrator, Charles Bolden, is betting that the billions of dollars freed up by the change will buy big advances in the technology needed for new ways to explore the solar system. He also reckons that commercial space companies are finally ready to take the strain when it comes to transporting NASA astronauts.