WASHINGTON (CBS Tampa) – The long-term future of putting humans into space is in jeopardy, warns a new report, unless NASA shifts priorities and gets a lot more money.

Space.com says the National Research Council Committee on Human Spaceflight is urging the space agency’s managers to make big changes if they want to reach their goal of putting humans on Mars by the mid 2030s.

“If a change of mind on the part of enough people, if enough sufficient leadership cannot be summoned, then we don’t find Mars to be a realistic goal at all,” said former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, the committee’s co-chairman and current president of Purdue University.

The NRC committee said that in order to reach the Red Planet, NASA must move away from short-term budget concerns to stable and sustainable strategies.

One driver could be sending human beings to interim destinations, including the moon.

Right now NASA engineers are working on a plan to divert an asteroid as a way station rather than returning to the lunar surface.

The reports authors say that while most everyone can agree that going to Mars is a noble dream, they are trying to outline a specific pathway to make that dream a reality.

“What’s different about this report is that we’re recommending an approach that will provide a robust way of getting to Mars in an endeavor that will take decades and hundreds of billions of dollars and, quite probably, human lives,” said Jonathan Lunine, the committee’s other chairman and the director of the Center for Radiophysics and Space Research at Cornell University.

NASA says it will thoroughly review all the recommendations made by the NRC.

The 300-page report is entitled “Pathways to Exploration: Rationales and Approaches for a U.S. Program of Human Space Exploration

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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