Post Kitty Hawk Momentum Shifts to Mars Mars Society

Human Mars exploration advocates emerged as the winners this week from the decision by President Bush to defer any decision about America’s next major goal in space into 2004. Since Admiral Gehman’s Columbia accident report, which strongly criticized NASA for not having a goal for its manned spaceflight activity, the Bush administration has been engaged in a top level review to determine a destination for America’s space program In the weeks prior to the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brother’s flight December 17th, a group of people opposed to NASA setting humans to Mars as its goal had attempted to rush the Bush administration into a preemptive decision to make a pseudo-commitment to return to the Moon in 20 years. In addition to being the wrong goal, this formulation would have avoided the need for any positive action in this administration or the next, and thus would have led nowhere at all. Instead it would simply have set the stage for yet another decade of wasteful constituency-driven random spending by NASA and zero progress in manned spaceflight.