I don't consider myself to be a negative man, but if you have read my previous columns you most likely get the feeling that I am, and by no means will this piece convince you otherwise.
As I'm sure most of you are aware NASA landed their most recent robot, Curiosity, on the planet Mars. Now I'm not totally against space exploration, but it is a struggle for me to see why governments around the world have spent so much money on space programs.
If one day NASA sends Bruce Willis into space to save the world, then the yolk will be on my face. But until that day comes, I have problems with how much money has and continues to be spent on space.
The robot Curiosity is just the latest example of money that could have been used lots of other places. $2.5 billion was spent to get this robot to Mars. To make matters worse, the mission was delayed two years and was over budget by more than $1 billion.
I would have liked to hear that conversation when the people at NASA were asking for double the money and two extra years to complete the project.
Can you imagine any other job in the world where that conversation would be acceptable? If I went to my boss and told him he needed to hold off printing the paper, so I could finish my work, he would laugh in my face. If I then told him I needed double the money to complete my work, he might throw me out the window. Good thing the office is only one storey.
The part of this NASA project that really grinds my gears is that the people working on the robot couldn't even guarantee a safe landing on Mars. There was a chance that all the time and money spent on Curiosity could have been all for not if it crashed on Mars.
How do you explain that to the people? President Obama: I realize our economy is struggling and millions of Americans are looking for jobs, but at least we had a chance at landing a robot on Mars. That should solve all our problems.
Its not like this trip to Mars is the first time for NASA either. According to an article from the Ottawa Citizen, the reason scientists want to go to Mars is to discover if life existed there. Here's another kicker: Curiosity won't even be able to answer that question. The robot will try to answer the question whether the right conditions existed to sustain life.
The fact is once this Mars mission is over, there will still be lots of questions about the planet, and there will still be lots of problems on the planet Earth. Imagine if the money spent in space was spent to try and solve problems on the planet Earth. We could help those who are less fortunate, all the brilliant people who work at NASA could work on solving problems that exist here. We don't have to beat Russia to Mars.
But what do I know? Hey, we landed on the moon. That was cool, right?