February 11, 2003
The tragic loss of life in the space shuttle Columbia disaster brings up an important question. "How important is this exploration of outer space and is it worth the soaring cost -- more than 100 billion dollars and the risk" A lot of finger pointing is going on to place blame for the loss of Columbia and its crew. I would submit that you can't spend enough money to make shooting into space more than 200,000 miles a safe journey. It's not like driving down the street to the grocery store.
I remember four years ago when the moon buggy called Pathfinder rolled out on Mars. The television news went crazy. They couldn't get enough of the expedition. They were talking in cuddly terms. "Scooby Do and a loveable rock named Barnacle Bill" I got all choked up! They would make great pet rocks. Listen, if I wanted cartoons, I'd turn on a cartoon network. Not CNN. At least Pathfinder made it to Mars. An unnamed ship in 1993 blew a fuel line and vanished into space 50 million miles down the road from Mars.
Mars is a long way. It took seven months for our space craft to go to a place where there is no water. The temperature is 64 degrees below zero. (No global warming there.) No cornfields. No trees. No pigs. No McDonalds. No neighbors. No life. We've always thought if there is life in space that it must be on Mars. But there is no life there and UFO freaks are in a deep depression. I know I must be out of touch but I think we would be hard pressed to document that the space program is cost effective.
The risk will always be great and the cost astronomical. I realize that manning a space station and performing research isn't as costly as going to Mars, but I think there are better uses for our money. In fact, I consider space exploration to be the ultimate example of boys and their toys.
Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.