NASA: Landing car-sized robots on other planets because they can

And amazingly, they did it with a meager annual budget of only $17 billion! No, really, NASA's budget this year was only 17.7 billion dollars. Seriously. Yet, using a small bit of that budget, they managed to put Curiosity on Mars. Imagine what they could do if they had more money? I tell you, if I were president, I'd fight tooth and nail to ensure NASA received a hundred billion dollars a year, or at least as close to it as possible. Of course, were I president, I'd also push for the creation of a cabinet-level Department of Science and Technology that would handle this kind of stuff. Neil DeGrasse Tyson would be the inaugural Secretary.

But no, NASA has to make due with a small budget because while we've put on a man on the Moon, we've lost the drive to do anything else. On September 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech at Rice Stadium, a line from which has become famous:
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
We chose to go to the Moon and we went several times, but when it came to do the other things, we lost our will, our enthusiasm for it. We look at the moon landings and decided "well, that's good enough." Well, it isn't and never was "good enough". We have two choices, not as a country, but as a people: Choice one, we content ourselves with small technological achievements, and stay on Earth and not do a damn thing more. Choice two, we get our act together, return to the Moon, go to Mars, colonize both, and journey to the stars. The first choice ends with oblivion, either from an asteroid, total ecological collapse, or our very sun burning out and destroying us. The second choice sees the human race fulfill its destiny as explorers, as pioneers, and uplifts us from hairless apes from a backwater planet to that of a great species.

Personally, I prefer the latter to the former. How about you?

Comments

  1. Big fan of choice #2 as well.

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  2. I've been for choice #2 ever since I was a toddler, but alas, as long as the people of this country continue to elect vision-less morons to the Oval office and both Houses of Congress, the United States will settle for choice #1 to all of Humanity's detriment.

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