There Isn't Life On Mars, But Man Kind Might Take A Picture As We Drive Past

The U.S. House of Representative's Science, Space and Technology Committee met yesterday with a single goal: to accomplish nothing. Sorry, no, they had two goals. To ultimately accomplish nothing, and to discuss the potential benefits of allowing NASA to cooperate with a private company in sending a pair of humans on a flyby mission to Mars in 2021. The company in question, Inspiration Mars Foundation, had intended on sending a manned flight to Mars in 2018, but they did the math and concluded that it qualified as "too ambitious," which happens occasionally (hey, Apollo didn't make to the moon until the 6th try, and that was war motivated science).

The IMF needs government authorisation to use the NASA built Orion spacecraft, as well as the Space Launch System, a launch rocket that NASA has developed for their own Mars missions (which, at the current budget level, will probably never happen). IMF seems adamant that they will be able to send a pair of astronauts to Mars for a fly-by, and have them return safely to Earth, though there remains some skepticism especially on the part of NASA. And it's valid skepticism, considering that we haven't been to the moon since 1972, and have never attempted a manned extra-planetary journey. Some see 2021 as being too soon, though it should be remembered that we went from near Earth orbit to literal moon walking in less than a decade, though it helped that there was a war on. IMF took the opportunity to remind the House of that, by boogeymanning Russia and China's growing manned space programs, and the likelihood that they, being perhaps less concerned about the safety of the astronauts over the glory of the achievement, might send someone sooner.

It's also important to note that NASA has no vehicle ready, no budget to conduct a large scale mission, and is as under funded as it is undervalued. Private companies represent the best opportunity for advancement in the modern era, as governments become distracted by social policy rather than actual, worth while programs. Allowing NASA to aid these companies is the best of both worlds, experience on one hand and money on the other. I don't know if 2021 is doable, but a private group like IMF would be the only ones who could if it can be done.

And eventually, it must be done.

Via PhysOrg.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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