What the moon landings ought to have taught us (and indeed did at the time) was that where there’s a will, there’s a way. A compelling reason to Mars ought to get mankind there in some way.
Unfortunately, we seem to have lost much of that national will since the long, cold slide into liberalism started in the 1960s.
“What the moon landings ought to have taught us (and indeed did at the time) was that where theres a will, theres a way. A compelling reason to Mars ought to get mankind there in some way.”
The problem is there’s no compelling reason to send humans to Mars. We’ve got robots there, which are vastly increasing our knowledge. Human exploration would contribute little more, at vast expense for another “we got there first moment” with no commitment or followup. With the current state of space technology, a Mars colony is a pipe dream.
People need to stop seeing the Moon as a worthless destination. The Moon is a natural space station that’s conveniently nearby, and an ideal spaceport for interplanetary travel. It’s also graced by unlimited energy, and no concern about pollution from heavy industry. We really have little idea what natural resources may be there (treasure!), but we know there’s significant water. Due to its lack of atmosphere, the Moon is an ideal platform for shipping cargo to Earth, just as described in “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”.
The Moon is just as inviting a habitable world as Mars, the only drawback being 1/6 G instead of 1/3 G. Due to NASA incompetence, we still don’t know how much gravity is required for reasonably good human health - but centrifuges could take up the slack at least during sleep.
The compelling reason to colonize the Moon first and then go from there, is the Moon is anywhere from 145 to 530 times closer than Mars, depending on where the Earth and Mars are in their orbits. Transit times are just too long to Mars until we have nuclear powered spacecraft. Colonizing the Moon would give us the experience and technology to take the next step.
“Unfortunately, we seem to have lost much of that national will since the long, cold slide into liberalism started in the 1960s.”
I think it will take a partnership between the government and private companies like SpaceX. The Moon is a compelling destination, when you’re relaxing in your below-ground lunar hotel suite the only way you’ll know it’s not Honolulu is the delightfully low gravity... ;-)
I think a purely government effort to start a permanent base due to military needs is also justifiable - particularly given the stated intentions of the Russians and especially the Chinese.