Below is a commentary from the New York Times. I thought this would be a good way to start this discussion off!

 

 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/09/opinion/09tue1.html

 

 

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Replies to This Discussion

I don't know. I think if they try for mars on a limited budget like this and something goes wrong, the public will not want to fund the space program. The only reason we made the moon before was because politics were involved and the budget wasn't an issue. People are as ignorant or more than they have ever been. They depend on technology they don't even care to understand. Every high school student in America is attached to a cell phone like it's an insulin pump, but how many of them know what a transistor is? let alone how they work. These people will be sitting with their laptop and write things on facebook complaining about public funding of research during an economic crisis. Political polarization and capitalism are going to plunge america into the dark ages.
I unfortunately have to agree with your rather bleak assessment. But these things can change and I dare say will change. All it takes its leadership. Yeah I know
" And where is that going to come from?"
No answer to that at the moment. I keep hoping Obama will do what he does so well and inspire! Anyway, with leadership and (unfortunately the private sector) America and the world can except the set backs and losses that are inevitable.
One thing I know fro certain is if we give up the dream we wont succeed. And in a bigger picture this will have a horrible impact on our species. If we stay put on earth we will face extinction. Space is no guarantee, but the odds of survival are hell of lot better if we spread out!
Why fight and struggle just to get to the bottom of another gravity well, even if it's only 1/3 as deep? The real future is to start space settlements, O'Neill colonies in space. From there it's cheaper to get anywhere you want to go.
Stephen thank you for joining and responding! I could go along with space settlements. Get no argument from me. I question weather the average American has the imagination to understand such things. (there again leadership could fix that problem) Wouldnt space (as in room) be an issue? I would like to See large portions of the human species migrate to Mars. I also think the logical end to Mars would be massive deep space exploration. Technology would increase out of necessity. Allowing for many concepts and ideas to be tried. As you know Stephen Im preaching the gospel of K.S. Robinson, and Gene Roddenberry.
I was always fond of Sagans starship design that was powered by earths many worthless nuclear weapons. I recall that it was basically a chamber that channeled the blast out as a propelling jet. I think that's always better than....turning several miles of the earths surface into a miniature sun.
I agree. We need to start living and working in space. What ever happened to L5 (at least the concept)? There are tons of advantages to production in low G with abundant, round the clock solar energy. If we do mount a Mars mission - we should launch from space - so we should build in space.

We may possibly look to the Moon for resources, however, since it would be easier to ship materials up from the moon than the earth. Helium 3? Water? Possibly bauxite refined into aluminum? We don't really know yet.


O'Neill colonies
Yes - these are cool. I would argue that smaller, modular pods (similar to what Galactic Suites is proposing - possibly built of discarded liquid fuel tanks) may be economically viable beginning as space tourism and orbital research habitat and, later, combined into larger facilities over time.

These could then become staging platforms in a 'stepping stone' process to a larger station in a stable orbit (L5?) which could then become Earth's de facto 'International Spaceport.' - another stepping stone to lunar mining facilities and a Mars colony as well as O'Neill colonies. But, keep in mind that all these things must be built of something and overcoming the tremendous expense of shipping them out of the Earth's gravity well will require amazing amounts of innovative thinking.

After all, it will be a very long time before the 'colonization' of space will have anything to do with alleviating Earthside population pressure. Even a million colonists won't make a dent in a world of 10 billion people. It might, however, represent a higher survival rate for the species. As Heinlein said, "The Earth is too small and fragile a basket for humanity to keep all its eggs in." (or something like that.
It might, however, represent a higher survival rate for the species.

I see this as the most important factor. But try convincing most people on the planet. Leadership is whats needed, in order to convince the population that more tax dollars should go HERE!
http://www.marssociety.org/portal

I invite everyone interested to please visit and register at the above link.
I know our species is capable of great things, but we have to unify somehow if we are ever going to get off this rock.
I definitely think if we are going to make progress as a spacefaring species we have to collaborate and stop trying to compete with each other.

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