With all the excitement over the Mars rovers, the cries for a visionary manned exploration program are back with earnest. If you are a romantic, then maybe you are moved. But if you are a student of history, the fundamental question of purpose needs to be asked. What is the point of sending living beings to distant planets, when our own earth is a confused mess? The analogy of criticism for a Columbus voyage doesn’t wash. The age of discovery involved expansion and exploration that increased commerce and offered hope for a new future. Long space journeys only gratify the egos of governments.
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