As an example of private industry's hunger for a Mars mission, Steve Streich, a veteran Halliburton scientific adviser, was among the authors of an article in Oil & Gas Journal in 2000 titled "Drilling Technology for Mars Research Useful for Oil, Gas Industries." The article called a Mars exploration program "an unprecedented opportunity for both investigating the possibility of life on Mars and for improving our abilities to support oil and gas demands on Earth," because technology developed for the mission could be used on this planet.
One industry official said the climate changed last October, when China put a man in orbit and announced plans to go to the moon. Suddenly, the official said, the White House seemed anxious to revitalize the U.S. space program, in effect telling NASA that "we're not going to let the Chinese take the moon and let us look like fools." NASA then spent weeks in drills to come up with an outline for getting U.S. astronauts back into space in a big way, using some of the broad ideas that companies had been pushing.
Military space business picked up some of the slack, but the giant companies have pushed for more NASA work. Industry officials said they did not do an end run around NASA and plead their case directly to the White House.
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