alien life exists somewhere in the Universe. So, while we can't quite accept how this all happened, most do feel that extraterrestrials exist. However, they might be microscopic and not necessarily intelligent. So many uncertainties, and I haven't even brought up the matter of Dark Matter and Dark Energy.
The Mars Project: Journeys Beyond the Cold War. The book became available in 1986, providing time for the U.S. and U.S.S.R. to agree to a joint American-Russian manned mission to Mars by the Year 2000. Matsunaga proposed 1992 as the International Space Year in celebration of the 500th anniversary of Columbus discovering America and the 75th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Well, the end of the Cold War ended those good intentions.
- #1 NASA Space Shuttle Program - $196 billion (135 missions from 1981 to 2011)
- #2 International Space Station - $150 billion (the USA of course paid for most of this)
- #3 Apollo Project - $25 billion (initially estimated to cost $7 million, reaching the moon in 1969, today worth between $150 billion and $600 billion, depending on your parameter of comparison)
- #4 James Webb Space Telescope (right, above) - $8.7 billion (except the project started at $1 billion and should extend past $10 billion in its lifetime, with lift-off hoped for in 2018).
- Ensure the survival of our species. Yes, asteroids, but models are being perfected to catch potential life-changers several cycles before they get close to us. An Andromeda strain? Possible, but unlikely. The best way to long-term peace is for countries to work together.
- Discovering life on Mars. Nothing close to life has thus far been found. Say you go there and find microscopic life. Great. Maybe even monumental. Nice to know. Now what?
- Improve the quality of life on Earth. Sure there are spin-offs, but this is an inefficient way to prioritize funds.
- Growing as a species. Makes sense to inspire the next generation, but not necessarily with $150 billion projects. There are more cost-effective ways.
- Demonstrating political and economic leadership. Here is where current Mars initiatives are doomed: there is no political imperative and, further, no possible profits to be gained. A good example is the International Space Station, which has not produced even one commercial product. Scan through this spinoffs report and see if you can find anything worthy of the $150 billion expense.