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Sunday, January 18, 2004

Readers respond: Bush space race



By all means, let's add extra billions to our multibillion-dollar deficit by sending human beings into space. We have a running tab of billions to defray the cost of the needless invasion of Iraq and the necessary war on terror. We have emptied the federal treasury of billions for the wealthiest Americans and left people in the states with increases in taxes and fees in order to maintain basic services. By all means, let's add extra billions to the national credit card and stick our grandkids with the bill

What we need to learn from outer space can be gleaned from robotic exploration. The Bush proposal is fiscal insanity on a grand scale.

Gerald E. Kerns, Deerfield Township

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Mars offers lots of ways to blow bucks

President Bush is rolling like an unmanned interplanetary lander. His bold plan to explore Mars meets several key objectives of his presidency:

• Spend billions of dollars on credit.

• Distract people from anything close to where they actually live.

• Build cool new toys.

• Stake a claim on a prime chunk of real estate that has absolutely no environmental regulations, and there are no taxes.

Companies like Halliburton, Exxon and Arch Coal could get subsidies to man their own missions - drill and strip-mine that funky red place into shape. Isn't the really enticing question: Is there energy on Mars?

Let's pray Bush gets there before the environmentalists do and set up some Martian Rock Sanctuary or something.

John S. Hutton, Mount Adams

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Bush plan puzzles this former backer

I think with all the domestic and international turmoil and deprivation that exist on our planet today that President Bush's thinking on the Mars billion-dollar project is plain and simply "out of this world." I used to think that he got it, but apparently not.

Carter Cordes, Wyoming

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Unmanned missions make lots more sense

What can sending people in the flesh to the moon or Mars accomplish that cannot be better done by hardware? I have listened to scientists who are qualified to answer this question, and I have heard of nothing to justify the complications that are involved in providing for humans in the hostile environments on the moon and Mars.

Any man or woman would be entrapped in gear that would give him or her less information than we could obtain from hardware controlled from the Earth. There are some nonscientists who give us emotional arguments comparing this to the voyages of Columbus and Magellan. People in spacesuits are less safe on the moon or Mars than is a scientist on Earth who has control of sophisticated devices on the moon or Mars.

The only thing about sending humans into space would be the excitement of the possibility of some of them getting killed.

Dick Schladen, Aurora, Ind.

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Explain this one to needy schoolkids

How can we tell children we do not have the money to pay for leaky classroom ceilings because we spent $825 million on Mars? I'm all for progress, advancement and exploration, but for President Bush to spend more money on the moon and Mars will certainly leave most children behind.

Marnie May, Loveland

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Earth to Bush: Moon doesn't have schools

Will somebody please tell President Bush to seek money for our school system? Nobody lives on the moon.

Pat McCoy, Winton Place

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Enormous deficit precludes space talk

The only thing President Bush is sending to the moon is the deficit.

On the same day Bush announced his idea to go to the moon, the federal budget deficit was released - a staggering $126 billion in the red for the first quarter alone. That projects to more than $500 billion for the year. Bush's current flight of fancy demonstrates his cavalier attitude toward how he spends the American worker's hard earned tax dollars - and those of our children.

When first suggested by his father, the former president, NASA estimated the cost to colonize the moon and eventually send Americans to Mars at $400 billion in 1987. dollars. In today's cost and allowing for the normal budget overruns, the true cost will probably exceed $1 trillion. In light of his already mammoth budget deficits, even the suggestion to spend this kind of money makes me wonder if Bush isn't already on the moon.

When it comes to spending taxpayers' money, former President Clinton was downright tight-fisted compared with Bush.

William Ellerman, Silver Spring, Md.

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Don't forget Tang, zarconium, ray guns

I hear we're going to Mars. This is a topic I know something about. Let me tell you what a trip to Mars will entail. First, you've got to calculate your ideal launch window. Next, you'll need plenty of retrorockets and a radiation shield for the thrust through the Van Allen Belt. Also, you're going to need 18 months worth of Tang and a space module.

I suggest a crew of five, with provisions for six, in case a mad scientist secretly stows away on board at the last minute. The regular crew should consist a two good-looking men in spacesuits, and two gorgeous women dressed like dental hygienists. The fifth member of the crew should be a funny engineer who wears a ballcap and pops into the control room to report that the zarconium impulse engines are hunky-dory.

It would surprise me if no one thinks to bring along a couple of kryptoleptic ray guns for the exploration of the martian surface.

If I learned anything during all the time I spent studying the subject in Saturday movie matinees, I'll bet you neither the mad scientist nor the funny engineer make it back to Earth.

Bruce Schultz, Cold Spring




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