Editor's note: Robert Zubrin, an astronautical engineer, is president of The Mars Society and author of “The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must,” recently updated and republished by Simon & Schuster.
In the opinion piece “Mars can wait. Oceans can’t,” published recently on CNN.com, Amitai Etzioni says that we should defer Mars exploration because the seas have a higher priority. While I have the highest regard for ocean exploration, the fact of the matter is that there are numerous agencies – including the U.S. Navy, the navies of other countries, academic institutions, research organizations, corporations and James Cameron personally – that are more than adequately financed and equipped to carry it out.
The idea that we need to suspend space exploration in order to provide the necessary resources to probe the oceans is categorically absurd. So let’s call it like it is: The argument that we should explore the oceans instead of space is not a call to search the seas, but simply a disingenuous way to give up our effort to reach the Red Planet.
Editor's note: Robert Zubrin is president of the Mars Society and the aerospace R&D firm Pioneer Astronautics, which does research and development for NASA and other agencies. An updated edition of his book, "The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must" has just been published by Free Press.
America's human spaceflight program is now adrift. On July 8, the space shuttle is scheduled to make its final flight, and the Obama administration has no coherent plan for what to do next.
Instead, as matters stand, the United States will waste the next decade spending $100 billion to support an aimless constituency-driven human spaceflight effort that goes nowhere and accomplishes nothing.