On Monday U.S. President Barack Obama officially released his policy for the nation’s space program, a 14-pager that backs up what many media outlets have been covering as the likely direction for NASA and beyond.

The highlights:

  • cooperate with other governments on Earth- and sun-monitoring satellites that feed us vital data on climate change and space weather;
  • find ways to temper the risks from space junk;
  • extend the International Space Station’s lifetime through 2020;
  • retire the space shuttles by 2011, and contract with Russia for flights aboard the Soyuz;
  • back commercial spaceflight operations; and
  • send astronauts to explore Mars by the mid-2030s.