Our Opinion: Exploration can wait, maybe forever

Monday, July 17, 2006

The U.S House of Representatives overwhelmingly rejected $700 million in funding for the initial phase of a Mars exploration project.

Much more would be expected in the future if a presidential proposal to put astronauts on Mars was carried out. The House of Representatives did the right thing at a time when the country is becoming excessively mired in debt.

Perhaps there will be no time when a manned mission to Mars makes sense. The presence of people in such a mission is mostly symbolic since unmanned missions can accomplish just about as much for the purpose of science. But manned missions are enormously more expensive than unmanned missions, so people going into space is a rather expensive symbolic gesture.

Even unmanned exploration may need to take a back seat now to more practical needs.