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Let's Go to Mars Together

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We are currently celebrating the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. In the time since that, we have sent unmanned probes to the planets, developed and abandoned the reusable space shuttle, and built the International Space Station. These were no doubt significant achievements, but who would have imagined back in 1969 that today we would be talking about the best way to get back to the moon, when people like Arthur C. Clarke thought that by this time we might be living in cities in space orbiting around the planet Jupiter. It is encouraging that we a trying to revive our deep space programs, and have been making plans to go to Mars, but how can we avoid the mistakes we made after the Apollo program came to its premature end?

I believe it is important for man to continue to explore space, for it satisfies one of mankind's most basic needs, the desire to explore the unknown. However, I believe that , rather for one country, the United States, to attempt to do something so challenging and expensive as a mission to Mars, we should do so as one of a group of nations. One of the reasons the Apollo program stands by itself, and had no meaningful followup, is that the main reason we went to the moon was to prove that our society was superior to that of the Soviet Union, with whom we were engaged in the Cold War at the time. When the efforts of the USSR to send men to the moon collapsed, we were placed in the position of one of the runners in a two-man race whose opponent suddenly drops out. What then is the meaning of winning? We should not repeat that mistake. Not only would going to Mars and the other planets as part of a team of nations be less expensive than going it alone, it would foster a spirit of cooperation that might have repercussions back here on Earth. After all, if we can go to war as part of a groups of nations, why can't we have allies in more peaceful pursuits, such as the exploration of the universe. We have already had teams of astronauts on the ISS who came from countries that a few years ago would have been at each others throats, so why not continue the process. Doing so might make us seem a little less barbaric to any one out in space who is watching us and wondering whether it would be safe to visit us without taking the risk of getting blown up.

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