That is the story in this morning’s news on the BBC website.
It is sad that it takes former astronaut Buzz Aldrin writing opinion pieces on Huffington Post to help bring attention to the stupidity that this Congress shows with the “head in the sand” policy of curtailing both the Shuttle program and trying to minimize the Ares/Constellation programs.
While we have to deal with a Congress that can barely pass a health reform bill that brings us only partly on par with the rest of modern civilized nations, we also have to now hear that a serious effort to go to Mars has begun – and it has not one thing to do with our own space program.
A Belgian, two Frenchmen and a Colombian-Italian have agreed to be locked away in steel containers for 18 months to simulate a mission to Mars.
Their self-imposed exile will test the physical and mental requirements of ultra-long duration spaceflight.
The Europeans will join a predominantly Russian crew for the Mars500 project, which is due to start in May.
All the food and water needed for the “journey” will have to be loaded into the “spacecraft” before “departure”.
There will even be a simulated landing.
After about 250 days, the crew will be split in two and three “cosmonauts” will move into a separate container to walk on the “surface of the Red Planet” wearing modified Russian Orlan spacesuits.
“I think you’ve got to be a little bit crazy to undertake this venture, but it’s a healthy craziness,” said Diego Urbina, a 26-year-old electronic engineer from Italy.
“I will definitely miss my family and friends, and Nature itself – all the things we take for granted here on Earth, such as the internet. And girls – that’s something I’ll definitely miss,” he told BBC News.
Urbina joins the Belgian Jerome Clevers and the Frenchmen Arc’hanmael Gaillard and Romain Charles as the European Space Agency (Esa) candidates on the project. Their number will shortly be reduced to two.
The selected pair will then join three Russians and a Chinese individual in the simulation spacecraft.
The experiment is being run by Russia’s Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) with the key participation of Esa.
The rest of the article details the rest of the training for the mission, the need for global cooperation, and the tangential mention of the flailing efforts of the U.S. in the plans for its next decades of space flight.
It was John F. Kennedy that lit the fire under this nation, and put us on the path to the moon. The reasoning back then was that we had to get there before the Russians so as to show superiority and also to prevent any one-sided control of the Earth’s only natural satellite.
Where is the desire to explore, and gain knowledge today? Simply because there is no shadow of the great Russian bear any longer does not mean that there is no need for exploration, or knowledge.
It is time for this nation to do some serious reevaluation of our national priorities, and get back on the track that started Columbus, Magellan, Marco Polo, Jacques Cousteau, and all other explorers on their path to greater knowledge. The path that has brought this nation to be the first in so many areas of measurement, and gives so much to the lives of the people on this planet.
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