A headline on CNN.com this morning says "NASA Developing New Space Duds." If you're like me, you're surpised to find out that the article is about new types of space suits being developed by NASA, and not about more in the series of ridiculously expensive failures that NASA has blown into the stratosphere over the last few years. President Bush's "Vision for Space Exploration," which includes manned missions to Mars, as well as unmanned probes to the moon and other bodies, will cost 16 billion dollars this year, and will average about 20 billion per year every year between 2009 and 2020, with no end in sight. At that rate, it won't be as expensive as Dubya's other boondoggle, the Iraq war (although it may last as long), but it's going to be a horrific waste of time and manpower. No one has properly explained just what benefit the nation or the world gets from sending seven or eight (presumably sane) young folks to Mars in a tin can, especially when the same amounts of money applied to the unmanned space program would yield much more in the way of actual scientific results.
Not to mention what it might do for our educational system.