Commentary

Enter the Mars Generation

by chris carberry and blake ortner

We don’t know what year humans will set foot on Mars. We don’t know what nationality will be first to stand beside their flag on the Martian surface. We can’t even be certain how we will get there. However, we do know that it is highly likely that the generation that will first step foot on Mars is already with us. Assuming these individuals are still of school age today, “The Mars Generation” will have a much different perspective of the world than previous generations.

In many ways, “The Mars Generation” already embodies what our astronauts have seen from space for 40 years — a world without borders. They are increasingly unbound from past assumptions that don’t fit their logical or emotional worldview. Why? Because they can communicate with people of like ideas anywhere on Earth today. That connection may overcome historical barriers and may allow better collaboration towards common goals. Technology binds them together like no other time in history. This is not to say the “The Mars Generation” will be less patriotic, but their worldview of cultures, peoples, and societies will be considerably different and more accepting than previous generations because of their connections.

Despite this swiftly evolving connectivity, or maybe because of it, it is not inevitable that the United States will lead (or even participate in) human missions to Mars. If the United States wishes to guarantee a leading role in this adventure, we need to quickly focus our priorities. While NASA could undoubtedly benefit from increased budgets, the main problem for NASA is that Congress and the administration can’t agree what to do. When they do, they can’t stick with that decision long enough to achieve most major space goals. We have wasted tens of billions of dollars as a result of changes in direction or cancellations as an excuse to “save money” and as a result have little or nothing to show for it. Is there a better way that provides value for the spending and a level of achievement?

Read more: Enter the Mars Generation | Moonandback.

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