The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a new Office of Exploration that will coordinate agency activities that would “expand the human presence beyond Earth,” particularly to the moon and Mars.

Sally K. Ride is serving as the office's acting assistant administrator until mid August. Ride, the first U.S. woman in space, has been in charge of a NASA study to determine a possible new major space goal for the United States. Her study group recently identified four major areas for concentrated examination as possible initiatives for a new national space objective:

  • intensive study of Earth systems for better understanding of how to protect Earth's environment,
  • a stepped-up robotic program to explore the planets, moons, and other solar system bodies,
  • the establishment of a scientific base and a permanent human presence on the moon, and
  • intensive exploration of Mars by robot, followed by human exploration of the planet.