Like Tom Shoop, I’m having some trouble understanding all the excitement about the idea of a manned mission to Mars. It is not so much that I have doubts in the abilities of NASA or the American government to make it happen, it is just that I don’t see how the benefits could possibly outweigh the risks.
If we send people to Mars, there is a very real possibility that they would never return. As Andy Rooney mentioned a couple weeks ago, “Scientists have said that it would probably be a one-way trip for whoever made it, because gravity on Mars is so strong that it would be impossible to bring along enough fuel for them to take off and return to Earth.”
On the other hand, mechanical probes like Spirit and Opportunity offer nearly all the benefits of space exploration with very low risk. They are able to explore and discover with absolutely no risk to human life.
I just don’t understand it. Risking the lives of people when there is a way to achieve the same results without risk just seems careless and stupid to me.