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Mars is Panned

“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 was referring to the missed opportunity to take the space program to the next logical step–manned travel to Mars. He continued: “NASA had long since been all set to send men to Mars, starting with manned fly-bys of the planet in 1975. Wernher von Braun, the German rocket scientist who had come over to our side in 1945, had been designing a manned Mars project from the moment he arrived. In 1952, he published his Mars Project as a series of graphic articles called ‘Man Will Conquer Space Soon’ in Collier’s magazine. It created a sensation.”

But space politics prevailed and Mars was kicked aside like some old pebble, remaining but a dream and candy bar. I’ve been thinking a lot about 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 fantasies which pits Santa and Martians in mortal combat and perilous pursuit. Thanks to the shortsightedness of our political leaders, we’ll never really know the outcome of this mythic event. Do you have any preference for space travel to Mars or elsewhere?