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Published October 2, 1987 | public
Journal Article

Man on Mars: A Turnabout


In his article commenting on the lack of direction in the U.S. space program, Colin Norman (News & Comment, 28 Aug., p. 965) makes the point that the Planetary Society is now leading the charge for a manned mission to Mars. To those who know the officers of the society (Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman) and who, like them, have spent years in unmanned planetary science, it comes as no small surprise to learn that they are now calling for manned exploration of Mars. The reason for this sudden turnabout can be found in their May 1987 statement to the Senate Appropriations Committee (1). Here, the three authors give it as their view that the manned exploration of Mars is an "coptimal goal" that will restore life to NASA. Unfortunately, they are silent about recent history which demonstrates that, for NASA, manned spaceflight and planetary science are opposed goals. A large manned program-and this one would be very large indeed-practically guarantees that science will be un- or underfunded for the indefinite future.

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© 1987 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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August 19, 2023
October 19, 2023