In the middle of all this general entusiasm, Bush declared that Moonbase Alpha should be constructed as soon as possible and that some people will get a Mars Vacation in a not too distant future.. Asking for extra funding of those projects (Money that will end up in the hands of some big companies by the way), even if it's doubtful that he'll get what he asks for (At least it sounded good when he said it).
The thing I wonder is.. "Why???"
What exactly is the point?
Humans have been to the Moon, and we learned that it's not really made of cheese.. whatever Wallace and Gromit might say about that..
What, exactly, has been the very useful, for mankind, knowledge we gained from that?
From a research point of view, the trips to the moon didn't give much. The facts that allowed people to go to and return from The Moon, needed to be known, and was known, before they went there.. If they hadn't known anything, it would've been impossible to send something there. Obviously a lot of researchers can't say that, because then.. why would someone give them any funding, if there's no point with doing it?
From a research point of view, the moon is totally uninteresting. The only reason for going there now, would be a/ To create a new tourist industry b/ To be able to send huge amounts of natural resources back to earth (I don't think there's oil there though.. ) c/ To use it as a stepping stone to go further out in space (Even if I doesn't know how. They say it's like 10 times cheaper to send people into space from the moon, than it is to send people into space from Earth, but then one seems to forget that you have to count the costs of getting people to the Moon in the first place, to be able to start from the moon. That way, if you go to the moon to start, you will have the starting cost twice, instead of once. Not to mention that there probably would have to be 3 - 10 times as many people going to the moon than people leaving from there.)
It's Mars that's the main target...
The knowledge from that would be "incredible"..
Exactly what knowledge?
Well.. We will finally be able to tell if there's water in some form there.. (Obviously extremely important knowledge.. )
Yeah.. and then we might be able to find some life, in some form, there.. which would answer a lot of questions about how life started, that might answer a lot of questions if there can be life on other places in the Universe. (As a matter of fact there's life on Earth now. To know how this life on Earth started, obviously is the most important knowledge there could ever be? What? Are we gonna be able to change that, in some way, as a result of that important knowledge? And if there's life in other places in the Universe, what would we do about that? Invite it over for a BBQ?).
But Mars would be the second step into getting out in space, needed to refill the resources needed to get out in space. (If we only have the technology to get to Mars with the resources we have... exactly how much further will making a stop at Mars take us? The four light years to the next solar system??)
In my view, the billions of dollars invested to explore the maybe life of Mars, is like laughing in the face of all the life that struggles to survive on Earth, where only a fraction of those billions.. even one billion.. would give such a huge relief to so many starving (and they wouldn't starve less out of the knowledge gained from going to Mars), to make a difference in helping the thousands of species with the risc of getting extinct on Earth every year..