NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin told the MIT Class of 2001 yesterday they can expect to help put an American astronaut on Mars within 20 years, but one NASA watcher said the political will for a Mars trip is still lacking. “You will make my dreams come true. Not in 50 years, but in 20,” Goldin told the 2,369 graduates. “A spacecraft will land. A hatch will open. A ladder will drop. Then, the world will watch as an astronaut – in a white suit with an American flag on the shoulder – steps down, and crunches her boot down on the dusty red surface of Mars.”
NASA chief tells grads we’ll land on Mars in 20 years Boston Herald
Finds on Mars reignite mission plans Boston Herald
For the price of extending the Big Dig to Dorchester, humans could possibly dig at the red soils of Mars, see if anything wriggles in underground reservoirs and potentially resolve the question of whether life exists there. “I believe if you had two to three times the price of the Big Dig, you could have humans on Mars,” said John Mankins, manager of NASA’s program in human exploration and development of space. That’s between $28 billion and $42 billion.