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Thursday, January 08, 2004

Bush To Issue New Lunar Challenge

George Bush intends on challenging America to return to the moon, this time to establish a permanent presence:

President Bush will announce plans next week to send Americans to Mars and back to the moon and to establish a long-term human presence on the moon, senior administration officials said Thursday night. ... Three senior officials said Bush wants to aggressively reinvigorate the space program, which has been demoralized by a series of setbacks, including the space shuttle disaster last February that killed seven astronauts.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Bush's announcement would come in the middle of next week.

As someone who grew up with the space program, with a father who worked on the Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle programs, the prospect of another bold new goal in space travel excites me. It will be interesting to see if it excites many others, as times have certainly changed. No longer are we locked in an ideological contest with another superpower for technological prowess or reputation, and that sense of mission very clearly motivated the entire nation during our first lunar mission. A lunar base makes sense if we plan on doing any further manned exploration of our solar system, but will be very expensive to staff and maintain. It will certainly require another type of launch vehicle to take astronauts out of earth's atmosphere, let alone transit back and forth to the moon.

Bush hasn't been content this month to coast to the election. He is sketching policy goals in broad, bold strokes, giving him a dimension I don't think he had before 9/11. It seems to me that he is trying to build a visionary approach to America, extending the notion of American exceptionalism to a greater historical degree than ever. In 2000, he only seemed exciting when compared to Al Gore. In 2004, no Democrat has had the courage to paint a vision like Bush, nor will they be able to now.

To the moon! And Power Line is also pretty excited.

UPDATE: Not eveyone is excited, including Rand Simberg. He's got some good points to ponder.

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08:13 PM in Science | Permalink


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» Moon and Mars from Spacecraft
This long-expected story, Bush to Announce New Missions to Moon, Mars, will certainly generate some excitement in the coming weeks, months, and years, not least amongst pundits. To kick things off, I'm going to comment on the story as presented... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 9, 2004 2:44:53 PM


I hope the President will announce a program to send humans to Mars. There are many reasons to justify such an effort. But as I explained at California Yankee and The Command Post, the basic human psychological need to explore is best reason for us to send humans to Mars.

The public's enthusiastic response to Spirit's successful landing on Mars demonstrates that sending humans to Mars can fulfill this need.

This should not be an Apollo like bee-line program. What is needed is a long-term commitment, focusing on building the necessary infrastructure to maintain a human presence on Mars.

Posted by: Dan Spencer at Jan 13, 2004 8:50:37 AM

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Posted by: Hi boys! at Jan 31, 2008 10:12:05 PM