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Tech Leaps, Partnerships Lie Ahead For NASA’s Mars Mission

“Houston Matters” spoke with Ellen Ochoa, a former astronaut and current director of the Johnson Space Center, about the state of NASA and the future of manned spaceflight — and its connection to Houston.

Johnson Space Center director Ellen Ochoa reveals future of NASA amid rise of private space companies.

Ochoa said NASA needs to work with private space companies to improve space exploration technology.

She also said the agency hopes to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.

"Part of our job at NASA is to understand what capabilities are out there and how we can use them in our plan to have human exploration beyond lower orbit," Ochoa said.

NASA is already on the Red Planet with the Curiosity Rover but hopes sending humans will shorten communication times and expand research capabilities.

The agency wants to dedicate the 2020s to advancing the technology to make the Mars mission possible.

Ochoa said improving the yet to be completed Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft are among the top priorities.