"7 minutes of terror"









There's a huge disconnect in our discussion of manned space travel. We've grown accustomed to vague promises about Martian cities just around the corner, but in the real world, our best engineering minds have never landed anything larger than a car on Mars and this is the least risky way they've come up with to do it.








Of course, these engineers are working with serious cost constraints. If we made an Apollo-level commitment, we could get an expedition there and back. If we made a WWII-level commitment, we could probably maintain a mostly self-sustaining human presence, but those kinds of commitments would violate the other essential aspect of the fantasy, that this wonderful future will be quick, easy, and most of all, cheap.

The real thing, like the Perseverance mission, is slow, difficult and expensive, but far cooler than the make-believe alternative.