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A Rational Advocate
"The most formidable weapon against errors of any kind is reason"

Why Go To Mars

The Space program had become another humdrum government program to the average American before the tragic loss of Columbia. It took that event to awaken us to think about this program and the reason for its existence at this point in time. At various times we gleaned information relating to the collaboration between Russia and America to assemble and man a Space Station. Evidently the Space Station was to be used as a laboratory for various experiments that would expand knowledge relating to the effects of space on earth matter. The notion was also cast out that the Space Station could be a staging area for an eventual excursion to Mars. In retrospect it seems that the benefit to mankind versus the costs expended had never been clearly explained to us. The lack of clarity in the objectives of the Space program has resulted in a variety of opinions by many, from ordinary citizens, to people experienced in Space related activity over the years, to government officials and to those presently directly involved in the program.

Of course, the Space program was developed and financed by the government for a very reasonable purpose. It has served the country well as an important contributing element to the position the U. S. holds as the leading power in the world. As with most government programs, having an idealistic objective, there is reluctance by an entrenched element to relinquish control despite the fact that time and events has made apparent the need for reconsideration of what the objective should be. It may be that the time has come for a completely new approach to what we, as a nation, really want to accomplish in space within the foreseeable future.

There are those of us who believe that government should look as much as possible to the private sector to create, develop, and accordingly finance, new technology based on the possibility of realizing profit on its investment. There is no doubt that government must be the prime mover in the planning of Space programs. However, it would seem prudent to include interests of the private sector in that planning because of the need for very large expenditures of public funds that might be mitigated by funds from private investment.

In any event, any planning should include a very realizable objective that is related to benefits to mankind in all its manifestations, including economic. It is all very well and good for those who wish to climb the never reached mountain top or swim that never crossed body of water to do so, as long as they do it at their own expense. However, it would appear that there must be a broader purpose that benefits many more of our citizens considering the expenditure involved in such a venture. Future planning must also importantly include weighing the risk of loss of life to the desired results.

The loss of Columbia and the valued lives of its Astronauts have, in its wake, created the national dialog that will hopefully lead to thoughtful and reasoned conclusions. It is hoped that those involved in determining the future direction of the Space program will follow the rationale presented herein. The resulting objective arising from this activity must be clear and beneficial to mankind as well as to those Americans who may end up paying for its realization.

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