The case for Mars?

At The Space Review Eric R. Hedman is making a case for a manned mission to Mars in his essay The best reason to go to Mars. He presents two argument to implement a Mars program:

  • The scientific and technological research involved will generate a positive spill over effect to boost the economy;
  • International cooperation will reduce tension among nations, in particularly between the US on one side and China and Russia on the other.

Assuming these assertions to be true, Hedman, however, fails in my opinion to argue why we should go to Mars. There several alternatives, one comments mentions the  possibility of creating of permanent Moon base, which would have the same sociological effects. The far side of the Moon is an excellent side for a Radio Observatory.

But there are numerous other alternatives. We could implement a program to build Solar Power Satellites from Lunar or Asteroid material or to use those same resources to build orbital space settlements. Or if you are really into big programs: helium 3 mining on Uranus for fusion power plants.

Anyway, these alternative might have higher returns in scientific, economic or political terms, than a human expedition to the Red planet. Only by ignoring the alternatives a manned mission to Mars seems attractive, but policy decisions should be made after considering all available alternatives.

Hedman does not convince me we should go to Mars at all. On the contrary he appears to be yet another person blindly focused on Mars, while completely ignoring alternatives.

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4 thoughts on “The case for Mars?”

      1. Ah, but rocks can be made into soil. Still, I wouldn’t mind a space station. Presently, this planet can only sustain 5 billion humans living in first world conditions. Verticle farming, salt water desalination, and and synthetic meat might push that number out, but augmentation and digitisation of the workplace (AI) will mean there just isn’t enough jobs.

        1. O´Neill, the father of orbital settlements, argued that this planet would be better with 2 billion people – extreme environmentalist Pentti Linkola believes just 600m people should walk the Earth.

          Besides since Mars is smaller, it could hardly handle more than 2 to 3 billion.

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