Just weeks after U.S. President George W. Bush announced plans for NASA to send a person to Mars, the European Space Agency has followed suit. The ESA’s program – codenamed “Aurora” – is much more detailed.
The first step is the development and construction of a high-speed re-entry vehicle by 2007. Following that, the ESA will send an orbiter and rover to Mars in 2009, and launch a go-and-return mission to bring back samples from Mars in 2011 and 2014.
As shown in the 1960’s, there’s nothing like a bit of competition to keep your deadlines and milestones tight.