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Originally posted by D.E.M.
If you guys are anything like me, I'm sure you are equally saddened by the inward turn that Humanity has taken over the past couple of decades. Sure, we went to the moon and put a station in LEO, and now it seems like nobody gives a damn about reaching for the stars anymore.
The thought is driven home by simple mathematics, however. If you've never heard of Mars Direct then now would be a good time to brush up. Simply put, for an estimated 55 Billion USD you could send 20 people to permanently colonize the Red Planet. Seems like quite a large amount of money, and surely 20 people is far too small a number to create a bastion of Humanity so far from the womb of earth?
Well, here's the kicker. For the price of the banking bailout that went through last fall, we could have sent 16 missions to mars, each carrying 20 colonists! Do the math, that is a permanent population of 320 people building a foothold on another world. As the Mars Direct program called for using existing technology, the $55 billion estimated price tag included the whole 9 yards.
Hell, if the worlds 4 richest men got together and pooled their wealth they could put together 2 and a half missions between them, enough to claim the planet as territory for a corporation set up for the express purpose of exploiting the planet. What billionaire in history would scoff at the idea of owning his own damn planet? What corporation would scoff at the idea of masses of exploitable resources with no laws or government to resist the exploitation?
A can of worms, to be sure. I just wanted to add a little perspective however. For the price of one of the bailouts last year, we could have sent 16 manned interplanetary flights and colonized and entire bloody planet. If that isn't enough to make you sad for the state of space exploration in the modern world, I don't know what is.
But hey, at least when they kill the shuttle next year and de-orbit the ISS in 2015 things will get us back on the track of reaching the stars right guys? ...right?