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Jason Holliston
 
Thursday, January 08, 2004  
Follow Through This Time

President Bush has announced a bold plan for America's presence outside this planet, including goals of a manned, permanent base on the Moon and a manned trip to Mars, some ten-plus years away. Other presidents, most notably his father, have promised similar things, but obviously, it didn't happen. NASA doesn't have any active plans for any extra-planetary manned expeditions. This time we need to follow through with the plans.

My reasons are as follows. First, a continuing, aggressive manned space program will force better and better systems for such programs. To go to Mars, we need better propulsion, radioactive shielding, air and water recycling systems, and a better understanding of the pressures of long space missions on human psychology. These examples, plus countless more will improve as needed to meet goals.

Second, not to sound overly dramatic, but the long term survival of the human race depends upon our permanent presence outside of Earth, and eventually, outside this solar system and the Milky Way. Chances of a planetwide killing asteroid or comet hitting the Earth in our lifetime has been estimated at somewhere between 1 in 2000 to 5000. Those chances are up for argument, but all scientists agree that someday, it will happen. If our race is existing on other planets, we'll continue to prosper. Also, a better understanding of space will help us avert such catastrophes.

Third, it's a goal that our country, and eventually all of mankind, can unify together to meet. It's something that's achievable, positive, and will certainly pay dividends planetside, as well. Eliminating hunger or poverty is a fine thing, but probably isn't something that we can achieve in the near future. The end of war is a wonderful idea, but until just about everyone on Earth agrees on a particular ideology, that's not going to happen either. This is something we can do now.

Let's follow through this time, and start aggressively pushing the envelope of space.

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