Why is the government refusing to allocate the necessary budget funding for the Mars manned mission. Allowing for the recession, how is the human race supposed to continue without the ability to expand?
Interesting question and perhaps is better answered by politicians than myself as I am inherently biased on this topic! However, in my own opinion (which does not necessarily reflect that of NASA), the Moon really should be our next target for extended space exploration for a variety of reasons, primarily from safety and technology demonstration aspects. A long trip (~2 years total round trip) to Mars is going to expose our astronauts to a LOT of radiation and microgravity. We don’t currently understand what those effects are going to have on the human body and how that will affect our ability to perform operations on the surface of Mars. Additionally, the technology that it would take to get to Mars and live on the surface for extended periods of time is not currently up to par. These systems need to be tested out on the lunar surface where help is only 3 days away and not 6+ months away. Hopefully we’ll be returning to other worlds soon, but we do need an influx of funds and directives to be issued by the current administration. And right now, the direction to be issued, whether it be Mars, the Moon, Asteroids or low-Earth orbit, remains to be seen. Cross your fingers that it’s, at the very least, beyond LEO!
NLSI Staff Scientist
October 1, 2009