Re "Been there, done that," editorial, Dec. 10
The way to recapture the excitement of the original moon landings would be to send astronauts directly to Mars, not go back to the moon. A moon base would simply be a complex boondoggle without much purpose. I want to see a Mars landing in my lifetime. I don't want to waste years and resources building a moon base.
Robotic missions also deserve our full support; they have extended our knowledge of places beyond the reach of astronauts. But in the end, we humans must go out there. It is our destiny.
President Bush's sound bite about missions to the moon and Mars could end up costing us $500 billion. Of course, Bush won't have to worry about the budget effect. The moon mission is a boondoggle, supported by Texas and Florida legislators and the aerospace industry. The space station, at a cost of billions, is basically useless. Imagine what else could be done with $500 billion?
The lunar base will provide experience in long-term planetary stays and for the evaluation of spacesuits and manned rovers that astronauts will utilize on the inevitable human missions to Mars.
Your insistence on robotic spaceflight is narrow-minded. Robots have their uses in exploring areas where it is impractical to send humans with present technology, but, as with the robotic precursor missions to Apollo, where robots go, people will follow. Space buffs have a saying: The meek can have the Earth; the rest of us are going to the stars.