Will We Be on Mars in Twenty Years?


It's a logical next step in space exploration. The bigger question is why would we want to go there?

But it's the sort of grand gesture politicians like, and it's not a huge piece of the federal budget. Even enjoys some cross-party support (pretty much the only endearing quality Newt Gingrich has is his boyish enthusiasm for space exploration)
Nope. No way no how. As much as I would like for it to be so, we simply don't have the money to go to Mars. I mean, we have the money for it, physically, but we already have that cash earmarked on wars, corporate welfare, drone technology, ruining the internet, ect.

It would be awesome if we sent humans to Mars, but the only way that is happening is if there is a compelling national security reason to do it. Science is not enough. So if we can drum up some martian microbes, with potential for germ warfare, then maybe. But I'm not holding my breath.

Also, fuck I am a pessimistic ass.
It's okay, derpyderpington. Judging by the results of this poll so far, we are apparently a pessimistic people here on Slog.
Why would we want to go there is my question. We don't have the resources or technology to set up some sort of base there like you see in sci-fi movies or literature. We don't yet have the need or ability to use the planet for resources. And if we did start mining other celestial bodies for resources, it would make sense to start with the moon, not Mars. The only reason to do it is bragging rights. Given that we're not in a space race with another superpower anymore, who gives a fuck?
And I blame Bush for the results of this poll. Fucking idiot.
I chose 2 and 3. Red China ftw!

But there will be an obligatory Mardi Gras celebration, anyway.
@4 There are problems with low gravity moons that planets don't have, at least for humans.

But in terms of robotic space exploration for mineral and water resources, the moon, having less gravity, is a better first step. Especially since we found water stored inside rock there.
There very well may be humans on Mars in twenty years, but if there are they will be speaking Mandarin. There's zero chance they will be Americans (unless they're guests or paying their own way -- and the handful of Americans who will be able to afford it will have to get in line behind the many, many more rich Chinese who will).
Mormons, privately financed.

If you want to know why we haven't sent men back to the Moon, you don't require conspiracy theories. Examine the way we did it, you'll see that it was extremely risky. More like some kind of YouTube stunt that could have ended in the Fail compilation than regular transportation back and forth.

Mars? An extraordinary advance in propulsion technology seems to be required. I still think we should go back to the Moon and get bases going there.

Ironically, the phenomenal success of recent U.S. robotic missions to Mars are probably driving that first response more than anything, as the average Joe or Jane who knows next to nothing about science or the technology required to send a human to Mars, nevertheless are enthralled by how seemingly EASY it has been to throw SUV-sized rovers out into the solar system and essentially score a "bulls-eye" on a rapidly moving target some 30 or 40 million miles away.

This poll seems to be indicating that many people assume, if it's as easy as it appears (which, of course, it's not), then taking the next "logical" step - sending people - can't possibly be that much more difficult, ESPECIALLY if NASA has oodles of money to throw at the problem (which, of course, they DON'T).

So, I agree with @1: while I would very much like to see a human - and frankly, I don't really care if it's an American, a Russian, or a Chinese - set foot on Mars in the next 20 years, my gut tells me that I'll be lucky if it happens before I die, which, odds-on means more like 30 or 40 years from now.
It'll happen mid-century, hopefully while I'm still alive. There's just not a compelling political or economic reason to do it. I do think that if China lands someone on a moon, it might provoke the competitive instinct and speed things up. But we'll never do it just because exploring our solar system is inherently worthwhile.
As awesome as it would be to see humans on Mars, the money (assuming the NASA budget isn't shrunk to nil) would be better spent on more robotic craft to further explore not only Mars but some of the Jovian moons as well. I feel ya there Derpington, I'd love to see Big Science get a much bigger slice of the pie but it isn't happening anytime soon. Weyland Industries to the rescue, perhaps?

1) The space missions of the past were fueled by the Cold War. The US only participated in this expensive game of one-upmanship because they didn't want the Soviets (who put in man in space FIRST) to win an ideological struggle that would have defined Communism as the future and Capitalism as the past. The Cold War is over now, so the motive for the US to remain involved is lost.

2) The only competing ideologies with our system left are a) Islamist fundamentalism and b) strange hybrids of communism and capitalism such as China, Cuba and Venezuela. The former is recidivist, not futurist. The latter has no real core vision at all. Thus, neither one is in a position to wage ideological war against our system.

3) Private industry is only motivated by profit potential. Sure, there's lots of speculation as to how profitable space exploration could become some day. But who's going to invest money into an uncertain venture unlikely to yield any returns in the foreseeable future? Its very expensive to send a ship into space. Governments can raise that kind of cash by hyping up ideology to taxpayers, but investors don't give a fuck about ideology.

Thus, nobody who could send us to Mars has any motive for doing so. In terms of the space race and many other development areas, the USSR was strangely the best thing that ever happened to America. It gave us something to compete with, a reason to improve ourselves. We were afraid that if they got ahead of the game, we'd lose everything, so we tried to get ahead of them anyway we could. Now, they're gone. The dog has caught the car bumper. This is why space exploration and many other areas of development have stalled out and gone nowhere since the honeymoon phase at the end of the Cold War ended around 2000.
What do we need done on Mars that has to be done by a person? Robots are doing pretty well and improving all the time. One big difference between a Mars trip and the moon trips is there are killer solar particles and radiation that become more dangerous away from Earth's magnetic field. Protecting flesh from those things would be very expensive. From what I've read, it means putting tons of either lead or water into orbit for shielding, and assembling everything in low-gravity. It just doesn't make any sense without a good reason.
I would say that the Stranger reached Mars a long time ago.
Again giving the Chinese waaaaay to much fucking credit. They just finally figured out how to land a jet on a converted Ukrainian scow, yet most Americans figure them to be a tech powerhouse.

No one country has the resources to pull this off. It will be a global effort if it happens in the next 100 years. And if the Chinese make it to moon in the 20 years, you can bet the USA and her allies will do everything they can to beat them to the punch.
Some people already have a plan:

Like others, I'd love to see it happen. But it would cost a LOT of money, and I just don't see our congress agreeing to fund such a venture any time soon. And if we can't afford to do it, neither will anyone else.

The only thing that could change all that is if one of those nifty Rovers found some easily-mined fantastically rare mineral deposits. If there were serious money to be made, we could do it in 5 years.
Barring a pretty big wake up call (which I'm not ruling out!) we're looking at economic collapse from ecological calamity pretty soon. Sorry everybody--Golub's depressing as hell feature on climate change last year was a reasonable look at the future. And that future doesn't have NASA.
#20, if we go to Mars, all that will change is that Paul Allen will be able to sell you the air you breathe.
Fuck Mars. I'm still heartbroken that we've never gone back to the moon, that we've never built a colony, or even an outpost, out at the L5 Lagrangian point.

Humans... we had such potential! And now, just a bunch of tribal apes arguing over how to feed ourselves, how much carbon we can dump into the atmosphere before the anaerobic pigeons come home to roost, or whether to even have a government that does anything.
An asteroid will wipe us out before we ever get off this rock, and nothing we leave behind will last the billions of years before the next evolutionary cycle brings back intelligent beings to the Earth, if ever. The Sun might flame out before that happens again.

Fucking, stupid, humans... mumble, mumble...
Stanley Kubrick's vision included space Hiltons by... 12 years ago. Ridley Scott's film gives us paranoid androids and flying police cards in 6 years.

We won't even have another underground rail line (much less high-speed rail) in 20 years.
We could've gone there already if it wasn't for the Iraq war. That was another dangerous and expensive venture that we had no compelling reason to undertake, but unfortunately not the awesome kind.
I was around in the 60s during the Space Race to the Moon. And as a nation, we were pretty excited about going. Maybe because we were post-war America and we wanted to strut our stuff. Nothing like that kind of national will now. No one around, really, to inspire us to dream the dream. And truthfully, the Moon was very do-able in comparison to other space travel - safety, time, cash. Maybe it is wiser to invest in unmanned technology to explore our solar system. Taking into account the direction our country has been taking for the last 30 years - the slow privitization of nearly everything, I'm going to bet on the private enterprise option for people who want to go to Mars. It won't be for me, but I do hope for those courageous souls who want to land on the Red Planet, there'll be some option for them.