Mars is Panned

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“Well, let’s see now … That was a small step for Neil Armstrong,” wrote Tom Wolfe in last Sunday’s New York Times,“a giant leap for mankind and a real knee in the groin for NASA.” He wasreferring to the missed opportunity to take the space program to thenext logical step–manned travel to Mars. He continued:“NASA had long since been all set to send men to Mars, starting withmanned fly-bys of the planet in 1975. Wernher von Braun, the Germanrocket scientist who had come over to our side in 1945, had beendesigning a manned Mars project from the moment he arrived. In 1952, hepublished his Mars Project as a series of graphic articles called ‘ManWill Conquer Space Soon’ in Collier’s magazine. It created a sensation.”

But space politics prevailed and Mars was kicked aside like some oldpebble, remaining but a dream and candy bar. I’ve been thinking a lotabout what might have been if we went to Mars, and what has been.Towards this end I offer one of the classic Mars/Earth-nexus fantasieswhich pits Santa and Martians in mortal combat and perilous pursuit.Thanks to the shortsightedness of our political leaders, we’ll neverreally know the outcome of this mythic event. Do you have any preference for space travel to Mars or elsewhere?