We’re Going To Mars!
On May 25th, 1961, in front of Congress, the nation, and indeed the world, President John F. Kennedy said these immortal words: "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth." Eight years, a myriad of technical difficulties and one tragedy later, on July 21st, 1969, Neil Armstrong took one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
Just yesterday, 55 years later, President Barack Obama echoed Kennedy's words: "We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America's story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time."
Whether or not this was kicked into gear by Elon Musk's plans to start colonizing Mars by 2024, which he recently announced at the International Astronautical Congress or Jeff Bezo's Blue Origin plan to get to Mars, or even Boeing CEO Dennis Muillenburg's plan to go to Mars, is unclear, but it's good to see NASA focusing on space exploration and travel again. It remains to be seen how we'll accomplish it, but considering that was most likely said after Kennedy's speech in 1961, I think we're in good hands, with both the public and private sectors working toward a common goal of reaching the Red Planet.
We should turn to JFK again, as to why we should go to Mars, this time from his speech at Rice University on September 12th, 1962: "Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, 'Because it is there.' Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked."
The only remaining question is, where do I sign up? Do they need radio DJs on Mars? They really should. I have a pretty sweet music collection.