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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mars: When Will We Go? -- The Wrong Question

Over at Universe Today, Fraser Cain wonders when we will go to Mars:
When do you think humans will set foot on Mars for the first time? Will it be a specific country or an international team effort? Or do you think it’ll never happen?
These seem to me to be the wrong questions.  It's not a matter of when we will go.  Rather, I think it's a matter of when we want to go.  All those questions about who will do it and so on and so forth seem to be questions worth wondering about after we set a goal for ourselves.

Of course, being an American, I have a soft spot for the idea that America might be the first on Mars.  Do I think we will be?  Not if a change doesn't occur in the way we think about our country, the way we demand it to work, and so on.  Right now, the climate is enormously anti-science.  By that I mean that the U.S. is a nation which no longer demands us to think outside the box.  Our
imaginations have been stifled.  When we were challenged to put people in space and on the moon, it was a wake up call.  And we answered it with amazing ideas, amazing risks, and the spirit that I wish we had today.

But that's not the America we live in anymore.  I'm of the opinion that we need a swift kick in the ass.  One that shows us how far we've fallen from greatness and makes us all realize that we desperately need to change the game.  Politically.  Ideologically.  All of it.  Chuck out the current book on how things are done and restructure our nation from the ground up.

So to answer that question:  when do I want us to go to Mars?
No later than ten years from now.  We need the challenge.  No more of this "well, we'll get to Mars some day" crap.  Set a time and date.  Tell NASA or Space X that they need to meet that challenge somehow.  Tell them to take chances and risks.  Turn up our imaginations like a crazy imagination-y machine.

Ten years.  That's the time.  By September 11th, 2021, we need to have a man or woman on Mars (or both, for that matter, which would be cool).  Tell your elected officials.  Send messages to NASA, Space X, or whatever space agency you'd like.
And, no, this doesn't have to be a U.S.-only effort.  I really don't care if we put together a collective of nations to share resources and ideas to get the job done.  What we need more than anything right now is a world full of ideas that can change the course of history.  Humanity is stagnating.  Kick it in the ass and get the engines rumbling again.

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