Should astronauts go back to the moon and to Mars?

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Last week, the first color photos of Mars, courtesy of the Spirit craft, caused great excitement among the scientific community and the public at large. The larger purpose of the mission is to search for signs of water on Mars, which could mean the planet supported life at one point. President Bush will announce later this week a plan to resume missions to the Moon and send humans to Mars within 20 years, with international help in this goal. Such a plan is likely to be tremendously expensive, and some argue that manned space missions are unnecessary with the level of sophistication in robot probes. What do you think? Is the expense worth sending humans back to the moon and on to Mars? Or should we use our resources elsewhere?

Some of your responses:

Yes. Would we have these computers if not for the moon race? Don't forget, the integrated circuit came from our first trip. How much of our economy depends on that spin-off? How much will we learn about living on earth by learning to live on the moon?
Paul Dowty
Parker, Colo.

In reading that 25 million dollars are desperately needed to save the Great Ape from extinction and watching daily reports of the environmental disasters that are taking place from our oceans to the rain forests, how in good concience can this administration be so blind as to add to their already reckless and obscene spending of taxpayer money.
Claudia Thresher
New Orleans, La.

Under normal circumstances, I would say "yes." But I believe that these plans are a ploy to attempt to distract us with what a lousy job the Bush administration is currently doing. It's George W. Bush with a hand puppet, saying "Look at the monkey!" to keep the American people from seeing the other messes into which he's deposited us as a nation.
T. Roth
Norwalk, Conn.

Absolutely. Exploration has, and will continue to be, one of our country's most valuable traits. The space program probably will yield even greater benefits than the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Keith Borrowman
Novi, Mich.

No, we have more important things on Earth and our country to be using this money for. We have too many homeless, hungry and unemployed people whom this money could go to in order to help them. There are so many good things to use this money for instead of going to the moon and Mars... please, curb stupid spending now.
Carol Griffin
Rhode Island

It is time we put aside the thought that space exploration is a goal for the U.S. and instead work on exploring space for all of mankind. Enough with politics, let's unite with the world and make this a project for all of mankind!
Andrew Hart
Portland, Maine

I hate to break this to you, President Bush, but: WE'RE BROKE! We can't afford to fight terrorism, fund our occupation in Iraq, pay for increased medicare drug costs AND foot the bill for flying to the moon. Perhaps if we cut all of our taxes to zero, we might be able to afford it.
Cal Lewis
Lolo, Mont.

Yes, I want to retire on Moon Base!
Emilio Desalvo

Where's all the money going to come from to pay for it? We can't keep adding to our growing deficit or this country will eventually bankrupt itself. We can't pay today's bills already. Why now spend for this "luxury" that we can't afford? This is nothing more than just pie-in-the-sky wishing.
Bernard Graebener
New Jersey

Yes! But only if Bush is the astronaut. How about Pluto?
Nicholas Mellen
Los Angeles, Calif.

Yes. If we don't expnd our horizons then we diminish ourselves and limit the horizons of our children. In the end we must go to space or the race is doomed to extinction due to a meteor, pollution, scarcity of resourses or an exploding sun; so let it be the U.S. who leads the way to the future.
Clinton Talley
Moorhead, Minn.

Of course they should! If America does not do it now then we are failing future generations of humankind. There is a lot in our world money could also be used on, but we have enough in this country take care of problems here and progress into outer space. It's just a matter of the people demanding their government do both. The United States needs to stay on the cutting edge or China and Europe will pass us by.
Chris Woltman
Tampa, Fla.

No, at least not until we are sure that our spacecraft are worthy of carrying humans into space and back. Till then the robots can do the job. Also, why not invest the same money to create employment, remove poverty and hunger, promote education and help humanity?
Vidur Gupta

The short answer is a resounding: of course! If not us, who? If not now, when? The constant pushing of the frontier is a central idea to Americans; we are a pioneering people. I daresay, with such a large budget deficit it only makes Bush's proposal all the more heroic, especially in the world's eye. Perhaps this is the craftiest political stunt we have seen in a long time, but nevertheless, it will also mark what may be a second Age of Exploration and lay the foundation for the greatest era of scientific discovery the world has ever seen.
Scott Chessare
Chicago, Ill.

If we had unlimited research dollars, I would say: sure! But we don't, and I think a better return for our quality of life would come from investigating the ocean and its fisheries or a number of other research areas.
Casey Roberts
Portland, Ore.

Emphatically, unhesitatingly, resoundingly, unflinchingly, invariably, profoundly yes. NASA and its quest to fufill its mission represents all that is highest and most noble in the panorama of human possibilities and conditions. To dream and to strive to realize a dream is to understand and share the most fundimental thoughts of God.
Christopher Smythe
Topeka, Kans.

No. Sometimes in matters with such grand goals we forget to ask the simplest questions. In this case it would be WHY? With a planet already inhabited with millions suffering from disease, hunger, poverty, and illiteracy, why would we spend billions to confirm Mars' atmospheric and sedimentary traits? It's red and full of dirt; that's great to know. How about that money be spent to feed people or provide health coverage for those who can't afford it, or better yet, lets teach people to read. Now those are grand goals and ideas which we should be exploring. This is an asinine idea.
Nauman Ansari
Alexandria, Va.

Does the Bush administration have any right to propose an endeavour like this when they already have the nation in a near financial crisis? The deficit is at a record high, and between the cost of the Iraq war and the Republican committment to tax cuts there is now sign of improvement. Going to the Moon or Mars would be extremely costly, something that Americans would be more likely to support if we all had jobs!
Jon Butler
Cheshire, Mass.

Yes, but the federal government way is too expensive and loaded with pork. We need to figure out how to do it in an economically sensible way. The government should take the lead in R&D projects, such as the development of a nuclear propulsion system.
John Hutsebaut
Paducah, Ky.

Astronauts should go back to the moon and Mars. Humans are there to do the things robots can't do. A robot can tell you technical information, but they can't describe something the way a human can. Also humans can think for themselves; they can improvise if necessary.
Bridget Byquist
Salina, Kans.

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