Humans to Mars? 'Stupid' Idea, Says Apollo Astronaut

Bill Anders, now 85, thinks the idea is 'almost ridiculous'
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2018 7:37 AM CST

(Newser) – NASA aims to send humans to Mars in the not-too-distant future. One of its more famous former employees thinks it's a dumb idea. "Stupid" is actually the word used by astronaut Bill Anders in an interview with the BBC. The 85-year-old, who went up with Apollo 8 in 1968 and became one of the first men to orbit the moon, added the phrase "almost ridiculous." Anders is all for the idea of unmanned missions—like the current one—but he doesn't see the point of the huge added cost of sending humans. "What's the imperative?" he asked. "What's pushing us to go to Mars?" The interview comes on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission, which yielded the famous "Earthrise" image, per SFGate. (Click that link to see it.)

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In his comments, Anders comes down hard on NASA in general for, in his view, mismanaging the space program after the Apollo program ended. "I think the space shuttle was a serious error," he said, something that "never lived up to its promise." And the space agency, he complained, "has turned into a jobs program" rather than an innovative science institution. Crewmate Frank Borman was more upbeat about NASA, but not about Mars, particularly the missions in the works by private companies. "I do think there's a lot of hype about Mars that is nonsense," he said. "Musk and Bezos, they're talking about putting colonies on Mars, that's nonsense." (Elon Musk says he's probably going to Mars himself.)

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