Redirect: “Americans Will Never Make Mars A Priority. Why Should That Stop Us?”


I am quoted in a recent story, “Americans Will Never Make Mars A Priority. Why Should That Stop Us?” by Rebecca Boyle on the FiveThirtyEight blog on the potential for the human exploration of Mars. You can find this story here. Among other things I note, “Everybody likes this stuff, but nobody wants to pay for it.” My skepticism is present thereafter when talking about a human Mars mission. I hope I am wrong. Please tell me how I have missed something. Anyway, check out the story. It deserves a good readership.

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2 Responses to Redirect: “Americans Will Never Make Mars A Priority. Why Should That Stop Us?”

  1. rangerdon says:

    Sorry to disagree. But as the NASA Field education representative (we were all experienced teachers, and most of my field work was in local schools) for several states over several years, I NEVER found anyone who didn’t want NASA to go to Mars, or who wasn’t willing to pay for it. That “people don’t want to pay for it” mantra is disinformation, put about by those who are swollen on the profits of illegal wars, and who don’t want to see that money diminished. They clearly control the media; and those in the ivory towers of space education or the media either believe in that mantra, or say they do because they are tasked to do so But in the several hundred schools I visited, in conservative Mormon country or liberal Hollywood country or in-between, I only heard one question: “Why aren’t we spending more money on NASA so we can go to Mars?”

    Consider last year’s Oscar-nominated movies: The one that won, about newspapermen investigating the Catholic church, brought in about $60, 000,000 by the time of the awards. The Martian brought in more than $600,000,000. Assuming that dollars are votes, I’d say that this country is champing at the bit to go. So I respectfully suggest that the mantra be dropped, or at least given careful re-thinking.

    Donald M. Scott, AESP retired.

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    • Dan Adamo says:

      I do educational space exploration outreach regularly and see overwhelming support for it among students, academics, and the general public in my audiences. But, Donald, that reaction is hardly akin to a scientific, statistically valid nationwide survey such as those Roger is citing. The inconvenient truth is my audiences are heavily filtered by an interest in space exploration, or they simply wouldn’t show up to my presentations. Was attendance at your presentations mandatory for all institutions where you performed field work? Did these attendees represent a broad cross-section of U.S. demographics, including all age groups?

      And remember: just like at a camp meeting, everyone’s a believer immediately after the event, or the preacher’s not very persuasive. What counts, particularly in *human* space exploration of destinations like Mars, is sustained support over decades. Given the wildly optimistic cost and schedule estimates NASA and the private sector are giving for humans to Mars at present, I fear all involved are on a path to disappointment. Circa 1975, the Space Shuttle was sold as a truck to LEO launching every two weeks. How soon we forget the lesson of Harry S. Truman’s adage: “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.”

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