“If astronauts are ever to venture again beyond low-Earth orbit…”

US President Barack Obama has set out the details of his new policy for Nasa. You can watch his speech here, introduced by a less-tearful-than-before Charlie Bolden, or read the Whitehouse script. There are also more details in the accompanying Fact Sheet [pdf file]. It’s been welcomed by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and criticised by three prominent former Apollo commanders. But not Buzz Aldrin… The BBC’s Spaceman, Jonathan Amos, sums up.

The previous administration’s ideas to go back to the Moon are history; the shuttle fleet will be retired at the end of this year; and the private sector will be asked to loft astronauts to a life-extended space station. What we did get that was new was some specifics – some targets, a timeline. There was a commitment to start work on a big new rocket no later than 2015, to send astronauts on missions beyond low-Earth orbit in a little over 10 years from now (including to asteroids), and to try to circle Mars by the mid-2030s.

Meanwhile, in the first of two videos to mark the Hubble Space Telescope’s 20th anniversary, Hubblecast 35 provides a short history of the origins of the orbiting telescope – including the delays caused by US budgetary concerns. Video credit: ESA/Hubble

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