[Update about 9 AM]
Dr. Mendell is relating a history of how his thoughts have evolved on getting back to the moon. Brief summary: he started out naive in the early eighties, and but eventually came to realize that NASA was incapable of carrying out the vision, and that private activities will be the key. He made a variation of a theme that I’ve commented on in the past (when I called space, including currently low earth orbit, a wilderness). He described it as an undeveloped country with vast resources, but no infrastructure.
[A few minutes later]
He’s hammering on a theme now that Paul Spudis reinforced yesterday in the keynote address: that various players are working hard to subvert the president’s initiative to support their own agendas. Moreover, the continued focus on Mars indicates that people were not listening to what the president said (he mentioned it only once, as part of the phrase “Mars and beyond”).
He’s knocking down the misconceptions that the only purpose of going to the Moon is to learn how to go to Mars, or to test equipment that will be used on Mars.
More thoughts on this later (and probably a column or two) after I collect my thought, and am not distracted actually listening.
This was mentioned briefly yesterday, but Dr. Mendell says that there is serious talk among some at NASA of doing a “touch and go” on the Moon. In other words, immediately after a lunar landing, we’ll then go on to Mars, thus somehow (in their demented view) having satisfied the letter (if not the spirit) of the president’s vision.