Monday, July 20, 2009
Apollo and Mars
George Musser, friend and colleague from Scientific American, points out that the U.S. might already be on Mars, if we'd built on the Apollo technology rather than replacing it with the shuttle. Harrison Schmitt made a similar point to me in my piece on Apollo missions that never flew -- though Schmitt, unlike Buzz Aldrin, thinks bypassing the moon now to aim at Mars would be a mistake. I tend to think Mars just isn't going to happen anytime soon, and that learning how to live on and use the resources of the moon will get humans to Mars in due course. Back in the 1990s, I was persuaded otherwise for a while by Robert Zubrin's arguments for a direct-to-Mars approach, but the nineties were a heady time and some realism is needed as well.