Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

The question: Mars mission

US President George Bush has unveiled plans for an $800bn manned mission to Mars by 2018. Is this another giant leap for mankind or a huge waste of money?

If you accept the fact that the mission of the human race is to develop and progress, then we are going to reach for the stars. It is inevitable we will leave this planet; the only question is how and when?

But space exploration is an immensely costly exercise and should be used as a means of bringing nations together not to satisfy the short-term political needs of a misguided individual.

Planet Earth and the universe belongs to us all and at least 51% of Americans and 95% of the world agree with that.

Geoff Home, 54, director, Yorkshire

The mind boggles at the direct benefits to mankind that could be accomplished with that amount of funding: the irrigation of subSaharan Africa; the control of the rivers in Bangladesh; cures for cancer or HIV; or the increased development of geo-thermal energy. I see no benefit except technological kudos for the US.

Let's fully explore and improve our own environment before we start messing around with other worlds.

Lance Fogg, 60, managing consultant, Blackpool

It is our duty constantly to expand the horizons of knowledge. We must tread carefully on the new lands we discover so as not to damage environments that we do not understand, but that should not deter us from trying to learn more about them. Without Columbus and Magellan we would not have chocolate, potatoes, bananas coffee or turkey. And without the moon shots of the 1970s, would computer technology have developed? If we can afford it then we should go just, in the words of explorer John Hunt, because it is there.

Alasdair Massie, 40, senior engineer, Cambridge

Since the whole 'first man on the moon' thing was staged in Area 51, they will probably fake the first Mars landing as well as a way to hide the huge sums of money the US spends on flexing its muscles around the world.

Andy Eggleston, 29, traffic engineer, Milton Keynes

Of course it's a silly waste. Viewed rationally, it's barmy. But so is buying bottled water from a supermarket. Maybe we shouldn't always be careful and considered and bound by reality? If we give up on 'impossible' goals and fantasies, we have to give up on much else that makes human life special. So part of me cries let's put some magic back: let's go to Mars.

Jon Balley, 53, water engineer, Bucks

As an engineer my instinct is to support a manned Mars mission, exploring new frontiers and increasing our knowledge of the universe. But this does not sit easily with my conscience as a civil engineer, as I am sure our resources could be better directed at feeding and looking after the population of this planet.

Greg Riddle, 30, site manager, Afton

Space exploration is worth every penny and the UK should be more involved. It is excellent for national morale, drives technological advancement, stimulates economies and offers the opportunity for adventure and escape from a single fragile planet.

We must venture into space or our civilisation will atrophy.

Mat Toy, 38, principal engineer, South East

If a manned mission is made to Mars, at least the astronauts could straighten up the wire coathanger in Beagle's aerial socket.

Jim Bell, 37, general manager, London

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.