Re "Looking at Mars," editorial, July 23
Once again, I must disagree with your editorial on the future of spaceflight and your continued opposition to human exploration. Although robots have their uses in going places where it is currently impossible to send humans, human spaceflight has many advantages, such as the ability to explore on a hunch and the ability to conduct in-flight repairs. There is also the inherent desire to travel to new places and literally "go where no man has gone before."
Your editorial simply rehashes the Luddite view of space travel. Your suggestion of using commercial providers is ludicrous. NASA and its supporters have it right: The next great adventure in space doesn't belong to a robot, it belongs to the next man or woman to set foot on the moon, and then to plant footprints and the Stars and Stripes on the surface of Mars.
Space buffs have a saying: The meek can have the Earth; the rest of us are going to the stars.
John McCain has my vote. I now see that a man of 71 can see the future better than a younger man of 46. The reason we have a space program is to go to the frontier. We have the ability to do it, and it is time.
Robots on Mars and Saturn are good starts, but they are not paving roads to the stars. Man must explore beyond his home, and that vision is shared by many other nations building manned spacecraft today.
Barack Obama can only see to the next election, but McCain knows our future is in exploration beyond our world. Why can't the younger and so-called new John F. Kennedy see that? The original JFK did, and we put people on the moon and led other nations in space science.
Now is not the time to close new frontiers to the younger generation.
Paul R. Dale
I can't help but wonder how future historians will treat the withdrawal of America from its 50-year leadership role in human space exploration. Perhaps they will consider it just another nail in the coffin of a rapidly declining empire.
Future scholars will be stunned to learn how a country that spent billions of dollars a year on superhero movies and video games could not muster enough political will to continue funding real explorers. They will marvel at the lost generations of inspired engineers, scientists and explorers.
There is a profound new willingness among American leaders to sacrifice our country's leadership position in all things pioneering. Let others inspire, prosper and make their mark on history. We Americans are just going to pull the covers over our heads and go back to sleep. The pioneers you remember are no longer with us.