I fully understand the orders of magnitude difference in effort, engineering, budget, and fuel required; but how cool would a big nuclear powered wheeled tank designed for thirty years of rolling at 40km/h stopping and backhoe digging to really get into the ground. Sample return for bonus points.
Passing these milestones just makes me want more.
I’m a little sad. The Lunkahod was my favorite little bit of tech we had at the Cosmosphere. I drew a picture of it for the museum map way back when.
I agree. Time for a sample return.
Unfortunately that requires moola. Americans agree that NASA is important, they just don’t agree on funding it despite it being only 0.4 percent of the budget at the moment. Until that changes, the United States is very much at risk of giving up its leadership role in space exploration/space travel past the 2020’s.
The United States must remain a leader in space exploration. Mostly because I don’t see anyone else stepping in to fill NASA’s boots. Russia? Nope, they’ve not sent ANYTHING beyond low earth orbit since 1988. China? They are doing a slow and steady approach, which works for them but means they aren’t going to be as capable as the United States anytime soon. Europe? Nope, the ExoMars program makes it very clear that Europe will only fund flagship missions if somebody else takes up some of the burden as well.
It will be interesting to see if past the 2020’s we look back at all the exploration in the solar system we are doing now with nostalgia and envy because we’ve regressed as a nation and given up our scientific leadership. That again, remains a real possibility.
The slow and steady approach of China looks quite promising to me.
The US doesn’t have the collective balls (and will) for larger space investments anymore. With the cost of wars to shoulder, and the declining international influence, I don’t see much hope there.
Europe, they would first have to agree on something. I don’t see much hope there.
Russia, enough problems with themselves. Slim hope if they will want to wag their collective dick and show off. More likely they will wag their intermediate-range missiles and look like dicks.
That leaves mentioned China. While the three other non-hopes bicker and throw sanctions on each other, China will slow-and-steady crawl first to Moon, then to Mars. And then eat our lunches.
Oh well… Better them than nobody…
Its a far bigger deal to drive 40km on Mars, using only solar power, as opposed to two light seconds from Earth, using RTGs.
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