Friday, December 05, 2003

Houston, we have a problem

I had a sad realization last night: I'm not going to Mars.

Oh, I don't mean me personally. But my entire life I had just assumed that I would live to see a manned mission to the red planet, and now I realize that isn't very likely.

As a child of the 70s, a Mars mission seemed inevitable. The Apollo program had just finished, and at the latest we should have been to Mars by the year 2000. Had the space race continued, there's no doubt in my mind that would have happened. Unfortunately, peace broke out in the world, people were freed (mostly) from the tyranny of communism, and we were left with no place to plant a flag.

The International Space Station was supposed to be an important step towards going to Mars. (I never was a big supporter of the ISS: we had space stations 25 years ago- remember SkyLab? Been there. Done that.) Now there are rumors that Bush is going to announce a plan to return to the moon to establish a base, as an important step towards going to Mars.

The moon base would be a 15 year project. Which of course means more like 20 years at the earliest. It will be behind schedule and over budget, and they'll spend the next 5 years trying to justify why they went to the moon in the first place. Then they'll announce the plan for going to Mars, which will be another 15 years (that is to say, 20).

So that puts us around 40-45 years away from Mars. I don't think I'm going to make it to age 75 to see it.

Stupid NASA.

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