“[What] the president has deemed worth discussing with the Chinese and others is that when the time comes for humans to visit Mars, it’s going to be an extremely expensive proposition and the question is whether it will really make sense — at the time that we’re ready to do that — to do it as one nation rather than to do it in concert,” [White House science adviser John] Holdren said in response to a question from Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), a staunch China critic who chairs the powerful subcommittee that oversees NASA spending. (Space.com)
Note: Italicized text inserted by me for clarification.
While the idea of landing a man (or woman) on Mars appeals to many people, a few prominent voices would rather visit the crimson world minus help from the Chinese despite the latter’s thriving economy.
“When you say you want to work in concert, it’s almost like you’re talking about Norway or England or something like that,” an irate Wolf told Holdren, repeatedly pounding a hand against the table top in front of him. “As long as I have breath in me, we will talk about this, we will deal with this issue, whether it be a Republican administration or a Democrat administration, it is fundamentally immoral.” (Space.com)
Representative Frank Wolf (R-Va.) isn’t exactly fond of China’s human rights record, and views the Chinese government as “fundamentally evil” (a view shared by many Congressmen and women).
Despite the cost of a Martian expedition, NASA may not need help from the Asian giant as SpaceX could light the way for a Martian expedition by 2031 (if not sooner), especially considering that rocket prices from SpaceX are a lot less expensive than America’s eastern rival.
Regardless whether NASA partners with China or not, the space agency needs to first prove that they can safely reach the red planet without being irradiated en route (not to mention set up an outpost upon Deimos which could be the key towards conquering the red planet).
Image Credit: Lockheed Martin