I think rushing a Mars mission, or another massively expensive manned mission right now will do the same thing for NASA.
Rushing a Mars mission? No. Getting some sort of semi-permanent presence on the Moon, which we already know how to get to? Yes, and we should have been doing it for 20 years.
if I were an American, I would have been far more proud of Apollo than all other achievements of the nation combined. What's up with you guys?
The baby-boomers discovered cocaine and tax-free municipal bonds. I'm quite serious. The abandonment of the space program, the war on drugs, and the increasing belligerance of the U.S. are all related to the aging of the Baby Boomers. Furthermore, we have two generations of people who have only known aging Baby Boomer cynicism.
I was born in 1961. The 1964 World's Fair and the moon landing on July 20, 1969 are central myths of my existence. I think the moon landings were fucking awesome. But my generation was the punk generation, the last attempt at resistance against Boomer cynicism, and it didn't work. And so nowadays I rent a film on the World's Fair which is a bunch of boomer talking heads saying how naive and 50s it was, and reminiscences of the Apollo project are all about Buzz Aldrin and his alcoholic liver viewpoints, because that's the kind of ennui that Boomers think is great and intellectually cynical.
BTW, robotic probes predate Moon race.
Not by much. There's not too much in the way of robots or even rockets that worked worth a dam that predated Kennedy's speech. Also, if Kennedy had not been assassinated, maybe even the Apollo program would not have gotten off the ground. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe shared more than body fluids--they were both dreams preserved by dying young.
I don't really disagree with you about robotic exploration--there should be a lot of that. But it's kind of hard to get people fired up over a robot. I think of robotic exploration as the occasional Hollywood films that are really good but don't make much money, and manned exploration as the summer blockbusters that make it possible to pay for them.
The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett
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