The United States government is Hell bent on sending men to Mars.
Men were sent to the Moon 43 years ago. They walked around on the surface. They collected some rocks. They even drove an expensive car. They hit a few golf balls. Then they got into their capsule and came home.
Those Moon missions cost $billions upon $billions of taxpayer dollars.
For what? What did we get for it?
There was nothing of value gained in those missions which could not have been achieved with unmanned missions. There is nothing on the Moon aside from rocks and dust – no air, no water -- nothing. There was clearly no good reason to send human beings to the Moon. They were sent there solely to fulfill a popular science fiction fantasy.
And some of the men involved in those missions lost their lives.
Now, 43 years later, NASA is spending $billions upon $billions of taxpayer dollars again -- on another manned space mission – the Orion manned mission to Mars. The first Orion four man capsule crew model arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week to undergo testing and development before an initial unmanned flight scheduled for 2014.
The first manned mission to Mars is scheduled for sometime in 2021.
"This is the first time we've had a vehicle that will truly send us where we've always dreamed of going," gushed NASA's Josh Byerly to Fox News.
At least he admits to the real reason of the mission. It’s to fulfill a dream – a science fiction dream -- not for any practical or sensible purpose.
The Orion capsule is a part of what NASA had planned as the sprawling and ambitious Constellation project that would offer a replacement for the space shuttle -- and a means to ferry humans into outer space and back to the moon – then to Mars, NASA hopes, within the next 10 years.
NASA never bothers to explain exactly what benefits to mankind these missions will provide aside from the fulfillment of the science fiction fantasy – an Earthling walking on another planet -- cool. That’s it; because there really is nothing to be gained by manned missions which could not be accomplished by unmanned missions.
It’s exactly the same situation we experienced with the manned Moon missions. The reward will simply not justify the expense. The risks, hazards and dangers to human life will outweigh the benefits to mankind.
You see, there is a huge difference between the arduous, risky and dangerous manned Earth explorations of the 15th century and afterward compared to the manned space explorations of the mid 20th century to the present.
Human beings are adapted to life on Earth. Everything that human beings need to survive can be found right here on Earth. The atmospheric pressures are right. The temperature range is right. All of the special conditions for human survival are right almost everywhere on Earth.
By contrast, on the Moon and Mars, none of the special conditions are right. There is little or no atmospheric pressure everywhere. There is no air. Temperatures are at the extremes everywhere. It’s either blazing hot or freezing cold. There is no food anywhere. There is lethal radiation everywhere.
Men on Mars would have to stay in complicated, expensive and fragile containers all the time, and everything else necessary for their survival would have to be taken with them to last for the entire mission.
Mistakes made on Earth may be rectified. Mistakes made in outer space will be fatal. There is very little margin for error on missions to outer space.
Add to all of this the fact that there is nothing on Mars except rocks and dust – exactly the same situation as on the Moon. If there is life it is microbial life; hardly worth the risk and expense of the trip. Even if there were gold and diamonds to be found, the practicalities of successfully mining it and bringing it home would not justify the risk and expense of the effort.
There is just nothing of practical value to be gained by manned missions to Mars. Our nation cannot afford them. The risks are far too great.
So again I ask: Men on Mars: Why?