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Obama Wants To Send Humans To Mars By The 2030s

The US is partnering with private firms to send astronauts on deep space missions to better help understand how humans can eventually "live far from Earth," the president said in a CNN op-ed.

Posted on October 11, 2016, at 10:17 a.m. ET

The US is partnering with private firms with the ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars by the 2030s, President Barack Obama said in a CNN op-ed on Tuesday.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

In outlining his vision for the country's space program, Obama announced that the government had tied-up with private firms to support astronauts' missions into deep space in order to learn "how humans can live far from Earth."

"I'm excited to announce that we are working with our commercial partners to build new habitats that can sustain and transport astronauts on long-duration missions in deep space," Obama said in the op-ed. "These missions will teach us how humans can live far from Earth — something we'll need for the long journey to Mars."

"We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America's story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time," Obama said.

Refugio Ruiz / AP

SpaceX founder Elon Musk, whose goal is to establish a full-fledged city on Mars, speaks during the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico in September.

Obama emphasized the need for "continued cooperation" between the government and private innovators to get to Mars. He said that private companies will send astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time within the next two years.

"One of my earliest memories is sitting on my grandfather's shoulders, waving a flag as our astronauts returned to Hawaii," Obama said, describing his "sense of wonder" at America's space program.

Nasa / Getty Images

"Someday, I hope to hoist my own grandchildren onto my shoulders," he said. "We'll still look to the stars in wonder, as humans have since the beginning of time. But instead of eagerly awaiting the return of our intrepid explorers, we'll know that because of the choices we make now, they've gone to space not just to visit, but to stay -- and in doing so, to make our lives better here on Earth."