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The Second-Best Plan

22 Jul 2014, 12:34 UTC
The Second-Best Plan
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By Dr. Robert ZubrinSpace News, 07.21.14Recently, an advisory committee assembled by the National Research Council (NRC) published a report titled “Pathways to Exploration” calling for redirection of NASA’s human spaceflight program. The report is written in a somewhat obscure form of bureaucratese, so as a public service I will provide a brief summary in English.The NRC report translates as follows: NASA should build a lunar base.The NRC committee authors never present this as their conclusion. Rather, they attempt to induce the reader to draw it for himself or herself, via the following subtle logic:1. NASA needs a definite and inspirational goal for its human spaceflight program, and that goal should be the human exploration of Mars.2. There are three paths to get humans to Mars:(a) Perform the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). Then send humans to Phobos. Then send humans to Mars.(b) Build a space station at Lagrange point L2. Then send astronauts to the Moon. Then send astronauts to near-Earth asteroids. Then send astronauts to Phobos. Then send humans to Mars.(c) Build a Moon base. Then send humans to Mars.3. Options (a) and (b) make no sense. So choose one of the remaining options.I must admit that presented with this ...

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