Well. $2.5 billion from the public fisc (that would be you) to land yet another probe on the Red Planet. Which will crawl spasmodically around, taking soil samples, seeking microbial fossils, and ancient evidence of water. To what purpose, I ask?
Apollo 11 only cost $1.75 billion in 2012 dollars, and we let two guys stomp around, plant flags, and take more photographs than a Japanese at Disneyland that year, while a third guy orbited the Moon as the official Loneliest Man in the Universe. Now we are excited when we replicate something we've been doing since 1976. And doing well for 20 years.
Sure, most Mars probes crash and burn. Usually the Russians'. But how many times can we spend that kind of money to take humble samples of the same barren, bleak terrain?
We all know the main reason this boondoggle cost so much is the ridiculous Rube Goldberg parachuting contraption. Where is Occam when you need him? I honestly believe part of the reason for the contraption was the media frenzy engendered by the "7 minutes of terror" meme, that was pimped 24/7. NASA created its own terror for ratings, and subsequent funding.
I have nothing against space exploration. In fact, I absolutely love it. I've been wearing fake NASA helmets and crashing my head into trees since I was 5. Still do upon occasion. I have Gus Grissom mounted on a crucifix in my bedroom. But these Mars probes are weak tea. We'll find nothing. Perhaps evidence life might have existed there once. What kind of life? The shoulders in Pasadena shrug in ignorance.
For two and a half billion dollars I want intrepid souls with unstable rockets under their asses, flying into the unknown. I want a man to say "That's one small step for man, and one curiously parasitic beetle crawling underneath my fingernail." I want to see brave men in hyperbaric quarantine while we observe mutations.
Seven minutes of terror, my ass. This is what happens when you transfer your values from Mission Control to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. When Texas and Florida ride bitch in the back seat: California values. The only terror felt in NASA in the last 24 hours was the terror incumbent in losing one's federal funding because of screwball, grandstanding stunts. These idiots will be sending little robots to Mars for 100 years if we let them. Their ideas boast grand vision, but they are in reality the most myopic of internal disciplines. In fact, I'll wager there are three times as many geologists on this team as biologists. Rockhounds, too lazy to search for oil. Well, at least the Grand Canyon didn't call you a dweeb. So you have that.
Fuck this. Let's put some boys in space. I'd rather go back to the moon in 5 years than wait 40 for a puppy sent to Mars. At least you can smack the piss out of a golf ball there.
Posted by Velociman at August 6, 2012 7:36 PM