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john Chuckman


“Will we be ready to put a human footprint on Mars in 15 years?”

I truly hope not, and I say this as a lifelong dreamer about space and astronomy.

No project we could think of would be a bigger waste of resources and time – almost as stupid as the American, Trump-supported proposal to revamp much of that nation’s nuclear weapons to make them more usable.

Robots like Curiosity – and its much-improved successors, already being built – can do everything, and far more, than a few people in bulky spacesuits with strict time limits on their oxygen and for how long they can even be outside their protective environment.

And all that is on top of the known risks now of long exposure to cosmic radiation and lack of gravity (during the voyage).

The whole idea is something that appeals to the child in us, but it is not children who will do all this. It is thousands of very highly-paid people using unbelievably expensive equipment over many years just to do something that truly borders on a stunt.

The Apollo program grabbed all of our imaginations, but that was half a century ago and in the context of a world struggle called the Cold War. It also was a much, much less demanding and risky program.

Further, and importantly, we had not yet developed the robotics and artificial intelligence we have now that allows us to pass through the rings of other planets, to photograph Pluto, and to discover water on Mars.

Our technology now is growing by leaps and bounds regardless of any space program, but poor old humans remain the limited creatures they were.

A completely pointless idea championed by folks like high-flying stock-promoter Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking in his dotage, and a moron like former President Bush.

Perhaps most important, this frightfully costly project would cost us many other far more rewarding projects in terms of what we can learn.

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