By Matthew Rios – Collegiate Staff
President Barack Obama has declared America’s desire to send people to Mars. Americans have had a longstanding love affair with space exploration, which includes landing on the moon, space stations and now colonizing Mars.
President Obama released a letter Tuesday to CNN detailing his admiration for America’s space exploration history and support for the new aspirations to travel to and inhabit Mars.
“This week, we’ll convene some of America’s leading scientists, engineers, innovators and students in Pittsburgh to dream up ways to build on our progress and find the next frontiers. Just five years ago, US companies were shut out of the global commercial launch market. Today, thanks to groundwork laid by the men and women of NASA, they own more than a third of it. More than 1,000 companies across nearly all 50 states are working on private space initiatives. We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America’s story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time. Getting to Mars will require continued cooperation between government and private innovators, and we’re already well on our way. Within the next two years, private companies will for the first time send astronauts to the International Space Station,” President Obama wrote.
Around the GRCC campus, attitudes about the Mars mission varied.
“It echoes the initial space race and President Kennedy’s call to put a man on the moon, ” said Professor Lauren Woolsey, Ph.D. of physics and astronomy at Grand Rapids Community College.
“It is a really interesting idea,” Woolsey said. “I do have concerns of the funding from smaller projects being consumed by the Mars mission, because it is such a large undertaking.”
Joseph Kamp, 18, of Grand Rapids said he agreed with Obama’s goals.
“I feel like it is a pretty good step to be taking,” Kamp said. “I think it is the right direction to go.”
On the other hand, Michael Francis, 19, of Grand Rapids, did not agree.
“I think it is impractical when we have so many domestic issues and global issues,” Francis said. “I do see a potential need for it, given the environmental impact we have had on the earth.”
Student Senad Tukelija added that the space exploration might encourage other countries to start their own missions.
“I don’t see any problem with trying to advance our technology to be able to make it to Mars,” Tukelija said. “If America is trying to go to Mars, other countries may jump in as well. Past competition to be the first nation to the moon led to a lot of advances in technology.”
“I think it is possible but we need a lot more science and funding behind it,” said Brianna Hoogterp, 19, of Grand Rapids, about the possibility of the mission.
When asked if they themselves would take the rocket ride to Mars, everyone agreed it wasn’t for them, except for Hoogterp.
“Maybe if I got paid,” Hoogterp said. “If I am compensated for it, maybe.”