Space: Next stop, Mars?

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Space
Mars image from NASA 2013

Image of Mars from NASA in 2013.

Going to the earth’s moon is so, well … yester-century. Private companies like SpaceX have their launch sights set on the Red Planet. In fact, SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s goal is to establish a permanent colony on Mars.

Should Mars be NASA’s focus, too?

Here’s what NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. says in the agency’s 2014 Strategic Plan: “Our long-term goal is to send humans to Mars. Over the next two decades, we will develop and demonstrate the technologies and capabilities needed to send humans to explore the red planet and safely return them to Earth. One of the steps toward this goal is a proposed mission to find, capture, redirect a near-Earth asteroid safely into the Earth-Moon system, and then send astronauts to explore it. This mission will allow us to further develop new technologies and test mechanisms and techniques for human operations in deep space, as well as help us understand potential future threats to human populations posed by asteroids.”

But, how much public support is there for a mission to Mars?

Just over a third of Americans (36%) agree that the goals of the space program should include manned flight to Mars, according to a 2012 poll by Rasmussen Reports. Slightly more disagree (38%). But many Americans (27%) say they aren’t sure. The price tag for a Mars program could be $6 billion to as much as $500 billion, according to some estimates.

Is the Mars mission just flight of fancy?

Should NASA set its sights on the Red Planet?

Should tax payers fund a Mars program?

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  1. SpaceNut says

    Though I firmly believe in the advancement of technology and human understanding through space travel, one look at that price tags makes me think we need to take a long hard look at the national budget. Space travel should be funded, but if you look at the price of the International Space Station (which definitely exceeded its budget estimate), there’s no question that a manned mission to Mars is out of NASA’s current budget.

    Ideally, the world would work together to finance projects like this, but that sounds like an even bigger flight of fancy that giving NASA a bigger budget. Perhaps privatization is the way to go after all.