14/01/2014 05:48 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:56 GMT

'Human On Mars' Mission Plans Announced By World's Space Agencies

Perhaps unnerved by the storming progress of private companies in the space industry, the world's leading space agencies have announced a plan to put a man on Mars.

Representatives from over 30 countries met at the International Space Exploration Forum (ISEF) in Washington on 9 January to discuss the idea.

Officials from big-hitters like US, Japan, China and Russia, and the European Union agreed it should be a top priority.

The technical challenges of a manned mission to Mars are phenomenal

A statement said: "ISEF participants noted that space exploration represents the ultimate challenge in our quest to explore new frontiers and expand our collective sense of humanity’s place in the universe.

"All participants confirmed that innovation and knowledge derived from space exploration directly contribute to economic growth and societal well-being."

The meeting acknowledged the International Space Station (ISS) as an example of successful international cooperation on "the largest, most complex international scientific and engineering project in history".

It has also just been announced the ISS project will be extended until 2024, funded in part by contracts with private companies such as SpaceX who run missions to resupply the craft.

William J. Burns, U.S. deputy secretary of state, said in a speech at the event: "Rather than pursuing disparate paths of discovery, 12 national space agencies have developed a shared roadmap that will lead us to human missions to the surface of Mars."

A number of private companies have plans to land a human on Mars although the viability of some have been questioned.

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