The Augustine Committee seems to be embracing heavy lift but oriented toward a space program of lunar missions, with Mars seen as an eventual objective in the indeterminate future. This is a serious mistake. If anyone reading this blog ever wants Mars to be explored, much less settled, in their lifetime, America must not only develop a heavy lift vehicle such as the Space X Falcon 9, or the Ares 5, but, the program must be oriented specifically toward Mars — not the moon. The moon is a siren call. Mars is an entirely different environment capable of supporting human civilization en mass. With a 24 hour day, vast quantities of water, and all the essential elements found on Earth, Mars offers humanity a permanent second home. Martian exploration would use aeroshells, parachutes, and on site refueling; the thermal, pressure, and gravitational environments are entirely different between Mars and the Moon. Lunar equipment and procedures will not evolve into Mars missions.
Asteroid mining and Martian settlement will provide the engine humanity needs to sustain a permanently expanding frontier. Mars Direct is a low cost straightforward way to settle Mars. Now!
The Mars Society is an international organization committed to this moral imperative. Products with variations of the “Cowards Return to the Moon” theme can be purchased at cost from Factual Fiction’s online store.
While such a populist theme may seem blunt, rude, or whatever, over the last decade of involvement in space advocacy we’ve observed a remarkably consistent dichotomy between persons involved in the space community: old political timid bureaucrat predictably favor lunar exploration, with their excuse being “safety, proximity to earth”; bold young creative entrepreneurs OVERWHELMINGLY favor Mars Direct, with their rally cry being, “LET’S GO!”
This dichotomy is so consistent, obvious, and predictable a simple biological solution could change American space policy: testosterone replacement therapy. No kidding. It is time to view lunar exploration with disdain. Cowards return to the moon!!!!