Retreating from History

Even as American athletes give it their all in the Olympic Games in London, competing against the best the world has to offer, sometimes wining, sometimes not,  the man who leads one of the few institutions globally identified with American exceptionalism,  NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told the editorial board of USA today that he had no wish to see America attempt a manned Mars mission on its own.  While the comment is somewhat disturbing, as well as meaningless given the fact that there is no plan on the table for reaching Mars,  he went on to extend a similar sentiment to any possible lunar return as well.

Among the many problems with this mindset is the practical matter that the overall makeup of any future Mars mission, while likely international to some extent, needs to be determined primarily by whose equipment is being used.  If the American NewSpace movement, led by SpaceX but with continuing growth from many other companies,  continues to reduce the price and increase the capability of reaching and working in space, and the rest of the space powers do not follow suit, then  why should the mission be overtly international?  On the other hand, if Skylon actually works…..

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