Huffington Post: It is essential that this be an international effort, led by the United States in collaboration with others, beginning but not ending with our existing partners in the International Space Station Program. by Mary Lynne Dittmar
'The ISS has taught us that a multilateral enterprise such as Mars will bring to the table intellectual capital, scientific abilities, research, engineering and interest in peaceful technology on the part of many nations. An international human Mars program, led by the United States and achievable within a decade with sufficient resources, would build and expand on the foundation created by the ISS with benefits to the entire world.
'Why Mars? Why not the Moon? Simply put, Mars is the best place to develop a “local” infrastructure enabling us to live on another planet, albeit one millions of miles away. In a very real sense Mars is at the far end of the infrastructure we are preparing to revitalize in this country. NASA’s approach to Mars initially moves human beings out into the region of space between the Earth and Moon, establishing the first deep space living quarters there. Nations or companies wishing to visit the lunar surface may do so supported by the infrastructure NASA is building now.
'The Moon may turn out to be an important stepping stone with geopolitical, scientific and commercial benefits, but it is not the end goal. In addition to the fact that it is more accessible to human life than the Moon, Mars is much more interesting in both scientific terms and in public engagement. It is a dynamic planet, with seasonally changing icecaps, the possibility of past or present life, and signs of past climate change that we should understand. Mars once had running water, broad lakes and warmer temperatures but is now locked in an eternal deep freeze. What might this teach us about the changing face of our own planet? If we don’t go, we won’t find out. We must not hesitate to act boldly in our own interest and in the interest of our species.'