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Satellites are used for a large number of purposes. Common types include military (spy) and civilian Earth observation satellites, communication satellites, navigation satellites, weather satellites, and research satellites.

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Astronauts will soar spaceward in commercial spacecraft while NASA develops technology so humans can venture to Mars and out into the solar system, President Barack Obama told a space conference Thursday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Laying out his plans, President Obama committed NASA to a series of development milestones he said would lead to new spacecraft for astronauts to ride to the International Space Station, a modified Orion capsule developed as an emergency return spacecraft, and a powerful new rocket. He also promised a host of new technologies that would protect space travelers from radiation and other unique hazards.

"Early in the next decade, a set of crewed flights will test and prove the systems required for exploration beyond low Earth orbit," the president said. "And by 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the moon into deep space. We’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history. By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it."

The president spoke to 200 senior officials, space and industry leaders, and academic experts inside the Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy in the same area that was used to process Apollo spacecraft for the missions to the moon in the 1960s and 70s.

Standing in front of one of the space shuttle main engines that launched former U.S. Senator and astronaut John Glenn into orbit, President Obama said, "It was from here that men and women, propelled by sheer nerve and talent, set about pushing the boundaries of humanity's reach.

"The question for us now is whether that was the beginning of something, or the end of something. I prefer to believe it was the beginning of something." The president's fiscal year 2011 budget proposal increases NASA's budget by $6 billion throughout the next five years to fund the plans.

Noting "the sense that folks in Washington -- driven less by vision than by politics -- have for years neglected NASA’s mission and undermined the work of the professionals who fulfill it," the president said the budget increase changes that.

The president's address comes at a critical juncture for NASA because the space shuttle fleet is scheduled to be retired after three more missions. The president said it will be quicker and less costly to let private companies develop new spacecraft for astronauts rather than continue with NASA's Constellation Program, which was deemed too expensive and behind schedule.

"Pursuing this new strategy will require that we revise the old strategy. In part, this is because the old strategy -- including the Constellation Program -- was not fulfilling its promise in many ways," the president said. "That’s not just my assessment; that’s also the assessment of a panel of respected non-partisan experts charged with looking at these issues closely."

President Obama's plan largely mirrors the "flexible path" option offered by a blue-ribbon panel established by the president last year to help decide the best map for future space exploration.

The outline does not do away with all the research and development from Constellation . Noting the success of the agency's development of the Orion crew capsule, Obama called on NASA to develop a version of that spacecraft so it can be launched without a crew to the International Space Station. It will be based there as an emergency craft for astronauts living on the orbiting laboratory.

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