Space-mad businessman announces manned trip to Mars
I complain about what I feel are idiotic efforts to do space exploration (for example) because I feel it does a gross disservice to those who are seriously interested. When people announce such things they get lots of free press, yes, but that press causes a lot of people to firm up opinions. Any rational person (yes, I know that those people are in short supply) would immediately ask what value spending all that money just to get a flyby. Irrational people might get all excited about the prospects and develop unrealistic ideas about the cost and value of human space travel, or conversely, sour on the whole idea because of the fantastic risk and miniscule reward.
I agree that a permanent manned (or womanned) colony on the moon or mars is a valuable learning step that will likely have dramatic scientific impacts (much like the lunar landings) because humans can quickly create/modify tools to do things that would likely take yet another probe to find out, all potentially in as little as minutes. Such a colony would have to have way more than a couple of people to be viable (dozens, likely, possibly even hundreds, not to mention completely self sufficient) and would represent a huge investment that would likely not be paid back for decades, likely longer. Naturally such a long-term investment is out of the question when it comes to the US govt, it can’t even agree on something that is critical to our economy and just days away. Other governments (China leaps to mind) might see the long-term value and cover the expense. However, I am not a fan of governments paying for such things. I have talked a bit about private funding and would love to see that gain some momentum, but I fear that a few individuals with an agenda will pollute such an effort. I think that there is a huge untapped set of resources available to whoever is smart enough to use it, I just don’t feel I have the charisma to do so myself or I might pursue it (I am also a control freak so am not sure I could manage it for the greatest good).