I fix stuff, I write stuff, I build stuff. I get involved in policy debates. And, for a brief time, I actually wrote pieces for…
Bravo, Mr. Bonislawski, for a solid take on the issue. I agree that the U.S. government doesn't have, or rather won't allocate sufficient funds to do a manned Mars mission any time soon but they shouldn't have to. Seems to me that with modern telecommunications we could allow just about anybody who wants to to send materiel to Mars to wait in a parking orbit for use by humans there.
Why does that matter? Because shipping just cargo is much cheaper per pound that shipping everything in one vessel, especially if you can afford to use a slower path. MUCH cheaper.
Afaic, NASA should announce that if you can meet certain specs and can get your stuff there for Marsnauts to use, they'll use it. That being done, we should see no shortage of states, companies and just plain old enthusiasts boosting their signature goods for use by Our Proud Mars Heroes. It won't be the arrogant ones (NY, California, etc.) who already get plenty of publicity. It'll the insecure ones. The ones who have decent revenues and whose state legislatures will be delighted to say "we're just as good as you are and we'll prove it!" North Carolina will subcontract to Research Triangle firms to ship local blueberries and clothes made of their cotton. Wisconsin will ship cheese. San Antonio will ship, I dunno, barbeque.
But the point is, with payloads that can be as small as five or ten pounds and the ability to boost fast and travel slow (both save TONS of fuel per pound and cut rocket size waaay down), technology is more than good enough to allow this kind of thing right now.
And the beauty part? Managed well, it'll cost NASA *maybe* ten cents on the dollar to doing it themselves.
Ah, but for those who have the means, why not use the remains where those complex organic molecules and such would be very useful indeed? http://tinyurl.com/ngo2p7
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