My vote is to spend the $700 billion to put an American on the surface of Mars. I think Nasa’s budget right now is about $17 billion. They probably couldn’t just scale their current programs up. But with good management they should be able to select currently unfunded programs and unexplored technologies and make the achievement possible. $700 billion might not establish a permanent colony on Mars – but probably could get a self-sustaining colony on the Moon as a stage in the program to land people on Mars.
- It creates jobs (I understand that, economically, creating jobs isn’t a good goal on it’s own)
- It creates investment in US companies
- It would generate a great deal of pride in our country
- We could earmark investment in the energy technologies necessary to the program- possibly solving a whole slew of problems we currently face
I believe that right now the earth is in great danger from several extinction level events, the most obvious a large asteroid and the most popular a global climate meltdown.
If we, as a species, don’t make the investment to colonize another planet we are putting all of our eggs in one basket. I can think of nothing more tragic then humans being the only intelligent life form in the universe (I don’t believe this, but it’s still a possibility) and being destroyed when we had the knowledge and power to survive and decided not to pursue it.