02 August 2005

Mars is better than the moon

This address to congress by Robert Zubrin is quite impressive (For a lighter read, try the FAQs on the Mars Society website). Ever since reading his The Case for Mars and attending the International Space Settlement and Design Competition, I have had a interest in Mars and more specifically on getting there.

Every few weeks I have a flare up of irritation toward big government spending that is mired in special interests and bureaucracy. Today the prize goes to NASA's space shuttle program. Knowledge of the $1.3 billion average launch price dampened my awe of the Enterprise on a recent trip to Udvar-Hazy Space Center in Chantilly, Virginia (but otherwise I highly recommend the museum). Zubrin's words sum it up nicely

Contrasting these two approaches, we see that the Apollo Mode is destination driven, while the Shuttle Mode pretends to be technology driven, but is actually constituency driven. In the Apollo Mode, technology development is done for mission directed reasons. In the Shuttle Mode, projects are undertaken on behalf of various internal and external technical community pressure groups and then defended using rationales. In the Apollo Mode, the space agency's efforts are focused and directed. In the Shuttle Mode, NASA's efforts are random and entropic.

So let's put some direction back into our space program and stop wasting money going nowhere.

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