Hey Space Placers!
A conference was held in Washington D.C. yesterday, May 6th, about getting humans to Mars.
NASA's Administrator, Charles Bolden, had a lot to say. One of my favorite reporters, Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post, has a great write up here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/exploring-a-possible-mission-to-mars/2013/05/06/a234afda-b5b9-11e2-92f3-f291801936b8_story.html
The price tag is steep and the world's governments are in no shape to singularly fund this interplanetary goal. Perhaps, just perhaps, the right combination of private enterprise and government involvement, mixed in with a healthy dose of international cooperation, might get humanity there eventually.
The human species has to colonize other worlds to insure its long term survival, plain and simple. Humans on Mars would be a big step in doing that but any plans need to be for colonization, not a "one and done, been there and done that" like the U.S. did with the Moon in 1969-1972.
We'll see if a change in presidents in 2016 will lead to a change in space priorities as has been the case all too frequently. Let's hope that Orion and SLS survive to be built, flown, and SENT to someplace beyond Low Earth Orbit......that will be the key for anything humans and space related, at least for the U.S. I have little doubt that China will land Taikonauts on the Moon in the coming decade or so.
Sky Guy in VA