Should we go to Mars?

Artist's rendering of a Mars Exploration Rover.
Image via Wikipedia

An opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal recently by Robert Zubrin titled “How We Can Fly to Mars in This Decade–And on the Cheap” caught my attention the other day.  It shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows Robert Zubrin that this is his opinion.  I wrote about Zubrin and the “Mars Underground” film almost exactly four years ago, and he is well known as being an Apostle of the Gospel of Manned Mars Exploration.  And a search on my blog for “Mars” shows that I’ve frequently been interested in the topic (though there are a lot of unrelated links in that search), and some of my earliest posts were a four part series concerning “Life on Mars.”

Zubrin claims that we can actually get to Mars within the decade and that we can do so at half the cost of one Space Shuttle launch.  The only drawback seems to be that it would take some astronauts willing to go on a risky mission — akin, perhaps, to the earliest days of the space program.  (Think The Right Stuff.)  He goes on further to argue that doing it this way — as opposed to the current “plan” — is a more moral choice than the current path and that we should go to Mars in this way.  Given how many more things that money could be spent on: allowing test pilots to risk it all advancing our space program and potentially saving the lives of many right here on earth by diverting otherwise wasted funds to more profitable uses, he argues that our current approach to space exploration borders on immoral.  (As any passionate apostle would (I’m thinking 1 Cor. 9:19-22), he may see our nation’s current budgetary wars as an opportunity to argue his case from an effective angle.)

And I must admit that, if our government’s going to spend its our money, anyway, I’d love to see a manned Mars program.  Given what’s fated for the pride of our power, I don’t truly see American boots on extraterrestrial soil ever again.  (Interplanetary and extrasolar adventuring after Christ’s return is a whole ‘nuther discussion.)

What are your thoughts?  Feel free and leave them below.

7 thoughts on “Should we go to Mars?

  1. Depending on the results of the experiment now being brought to the ISS by the Shuttle, we may find ourselves at a crossroads. We may discover that extended travel in deep space is just too hazardous for humans without extensive redesign (note that word) of the human body. Some are predicting a deep period of quiet sun rather than active sun and that would let in more cosmic rays from outside the solar system.

    “Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids,” Elton John sang long ago. I don’t like the idea of man intruding on something not given to him (Psalms 115:16). And I think the only reason we’ve been allowed to intrude thus far is to force mankind, finally, to choose between letting God transform him into something suitable for space and trying to transform himself into something suitable – the apotheosis of that ancient choice in the Garden of Eden.

  2. Linda Patterson

    (Interplanetary and extrasolar adventuring after Christ’s return is a whole ‘nuther discussion.)

    I am waiting for the event and most certainly your ‘nuther discussion.

  3. Steve

    Well, generally speaking, a manned mission to Mars would be fun. It would excite people the same way that the moon landing did. As far as the expense goes, the moon landing did produce some technological developments – microwave ovens, contact lenses, and personal computers. From what I heard, anyway.

    Still, a manned mission to Mars seems like a stretch. Can you imagine five or six guys living in a sardine can for months on end? No thanks. I’d be surprised if they didn’t punch one another out, sooner or later.

    Personally, I’d prefer robotic missions to Mars, with movie cameras and microphones, so we can see and hear the place as though we were driving around.

  4. Steven

    First off, congratulations Mr. Smith on posting another “interesting” topic for comment. You know, it drives me crazy when I hear that famous (yet flawed) argument about how we could be spending our tax dollars on other things. If people like that actually take the time to do some research, they will find that the space program has led to breakthroughs that everyday people now take for granted. Everything from computers and hand held devices to producing better food crops (which in turn have helped feed the hungry) to cutting edge treatments for diseases. None of which would have been possible without the money spent on this worthwhile program.

    Next, I would LOVE to see a manned mission to Mars. The problems are enormous, not the least of which are the safety concerns. However, it is very possible to do, and the technology is in place to do it now. It simply is a question of how “motivated” the government is in making it happen. Just remember that NASA hasn’t even got a replacement yet for the Space Shuttle, let alone have a plan in place for Mars. First things first.

  5. TeapotTempest

    Let’s get together with the Chinese, Japanese and Russians and just do it. If we build it, they will go. hehee

  6. Thinker

    Maybe we should stick to watching a good science fiction movie. Anyone see “Forbidden Planet”? It has an ending Church members should see!

  7. We certainly seem to be losing the private sector space race, even the free market race, to Russia. My politics says leave it to private industry. Scaled Composites and Virgin Atlantic is doing some incredible stuff and it just tourism.

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