Sunday, January 04, 2015

Mars...a Bust!

I read a lot of science essays and articles. Among those are works on our various space programs. They almost all depress me.

Keep in mind that I am a child of the 60s. When I was a kid we were told we were going to send humans to the Moon and we did it. The information was everywhere and at hand, and the propaganda over it was like a flood of good news. I loved reading about it and I loved the experience of watching it happen. It probably never would have occurred if the USA had not needed at that time a great amount of good will propaganda, which the Apollo Moon program provided--in spades.

I also read widely as a kid on the plans of Werner Von Braun to send our American astronauts beyond the Moon and on to Mars. This was not only a dream of mine, but also of the brilliant rocket scientist from Germany. He had lobbied hard to lend a hand to the sputtering rocket program of the USA and the folk in charge had finally relented and put Von Braun and his German pals into positions of power and influence over our space exploration projects.

My parents had around the time I was nine or ten given me a copy of an old 1954 issue of Collier's Magazine (Hell--I could write volumes on Collier's and how its demise shocked everyone). The magazine had given a vast effort to showing how Von Braun had planned a manned mission to Mars. The guy felt he could do it and knew that the vast wealth of the USA could get it done. (I lost that magazine, but I really wish I still had it.)

So, Von Braun knew he could get us to the Moon for propaganda purposes against the Soviet Union. We needed that, because they had upstaged us in rocket development early on. The USA really had to beat them to the Moon, and of course we did--by pouring unlimited funds and resources into the project. Von Braun thought that he would be allowed to continue with his dreams and see us head off to Mars under his direction.

Alas, the government of the USA got what it wanted out of the Apollo program and let it wither and die. And then, with no more need of deep space human missions, they let that dream die, too. Von Braun and his team of scientists were quietly retired from NASA and since those days the great Administration has been allowed to die the death of a thousand budget cuts.

From time to time I'll see optimistic articles of how we are going to go to Mars. But it's not going to happen. Von Braun died without having seen it, and I'll die without seeing it, and everyone else will die without seeing it. Because, the bottom line is that private corporate concerns no longer pay taxes and missions like going to Mars demand the attention of National capital investments in both tax money, intelligence, and manpower. And since we are now utterly and completely under the thrall of the super-rich, I can guarantee you that we will never again achieve the goals of humans into deep space.

Fred Freeman's illustration of part of Von Braun's vision to get humans to Mars.

The Nova rocket (C8) that Von Braun and NASA had designed as the next step to get Americans into deep space and (eventually) to Mars. It was, of course, never built, the project cancelled.

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