On the same weekend that a remake of “Total Recall” (the original was based on Mars with Schwartzenegger in the lead role) was released in theaters NASA landed a new craft, Curiosity on Mars. With lots of hoopla and a live stream of the landing (it can be done, NBC) NASA triumphantly gave us interesting black and white stills pictures from Mars.
Very cool, but why is it important? Are we going to colonize Mars? Will we find a new oil deposit? Are the rocks and barren wasteland of Mars going reveal something so amazing that our minds will be blown? Probably not.
Its important because of the dream of Mars. Its important because it is government funded education. Its important because of the number of children who watch the video of the landing on YouTube and go “I’m doing that!”
Going to Mars is great and all but what’s really important is the training of the engineers needed to go to Mars. So many problems come up when you send shit into space with a remote control that you are bound to discover great stuff along the way. Our NASA programs were never about going to the Moon or beating the Soviets. It was about training thousands of engineers. Thousands of people who had the dream of solving problems and building new things.
Going to Mars just for the sake of doing it is something only the government can do. There is no ROI involved. The value is measured in decades not quarters. If the US wants to lead the world we need the thousands of engineers that it takes to go to Mars and beyond.
So… get your ass to Mars indeed!