Mars on a Shoestring (A thought paper by Eric Knight) Remarkable Technologies

On the return flight from a meeting at NASA headquarters a couple of years ago, my mind was reflecting upon the Space Shuttle program…its milestones…its tragedies…and its soon-to-be fleet retirement. (As of this writing, the Space Shuttle fleet is slated for retirement by September 30, 2010.)
While gazing out over the clouds through the airplane window, a number of thoughts swirled in my head:
Instead of retiring the Space Shuttle, and simply moth-balling the orbiters at museums and “rocket parks” around the country, could we give the fleet a heroic assignment? A grand mission commensurate with their thirty years of service? Something that would be truly historic — even through the lens of time a millennium from now?