writes "A panel reporting to President Obama is recommending that we skip LANDING on the Moon and Mars and instead consider progressively deeper space voyages (first to L1 earth moon point, then perhaps L2 earth sun point, then Mars flyby/orbit or asteroid visits). The astronauts could send robotic probes to land on Mars (for example) which could be much more effective without the 10 minute time lag to earth. (Can you say telepresence?).
I for one, whole-heartedly agree that this approach would lead to "the most steady cadence of steady improvement." and keep us from inconsistent achievements in space (like not leaving earth orbit for 40 years!). Some would say that this approach would be lacking in the photo-ops necessary to maintain interest in the space program (no footprints on Martian soil) but I think there would be plenty of cool vistas (rendezvous with a comet or even orbiting one of the moons of Jupiter assuming they figure out radiation shielding) to keep the taxpayer dollars flowing. The science return would be much greater because it would hopefully utilize both man and machine at their best (robots on one way trips down a gravity well while the humans provide the intuition and flexibility from orbit). If you can figure out radiation shielding and bone loss from zero-g, THE SOLAR SYSTEM IS OURS! (with a good ion drive and nuclear power plant). Okay maybe not Europa, we should attempt no landing there. /* To slashdot editors: As you can see from my profile I've tried many submissions and haven't seen one accepted. A couple of times I've noticed that someone else's submission on the same subject was accepted while mine was rejected so I don't think I always have bad taste. As you can also see, I've been a prolific poster on Slashdot holding a "Excellent" Karma rating for years. So, want to enlighten me on why my posts haven't been accepted? I won't take this personally but, you know, I'll assume that you guys just aren't interested in what I have to contribute. Of course, if you decide you DO want to accept this submission, please feel free to remove this comment! */"Link to Original Source