<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p><br />With a normal and modest economic growth rate of 2.5% over the next thirty years the budget of NASA could double. Then take into account 30 years worth of improved technology. A manned mission to Mars will look much less daunting 30 years from now than it does today.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />I will not rule that out but such a rate in 30 years even if doubled would appear to be a mere cost of living rise in proportion to the devaluation of money effect. <br /><br />I think 25 to 30 years is WAY ambitious and unrealistic to have humans on Mars. They would have to be already sending test flights, manned or unmanned to test vehicle designs, to the Moon next year, somehow, in order for this to happen. They're nowhere even near going to the Moon currently, let alone Mars. The longer they languish in idle talk at press-releases/events about a return to the Moon, we're that farther away from a mission to Mars. <br /><br />If this rationale is not paramount: Moon = Mars, we're not going. At this point they are NOT mutually exclusive projects but the SAME project. If this mode of thought is not primary, we're not going to Mars. <br /><br />And then to reiterate, how long will they then dally around with a (currently fictional) extended Lunar program once we have the "Neil Armstrong part 2" moment? The Moon is cool and everything, but Mars is FAR more interesting and pioneering by several orders of magnitude. <br /><br />In my opinion, the Moon should be seen at this point only as a test ground and not the main focus. 25 years is not very long, really. That will be here in a New York minute, particularly when considering how abysmally slowly ANY government agency conducts it's affairs. Major space programs are notoriously nearly ALWAYS 1) behind schedule 2) over-budget 3) obsolete before they are launched.