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Space travel used to be this amazing spectacle. Every news program stopped in its tracks to bring news of John Glenn or Neil Armstrong, or some foreboding tale of Yuri Gagarin and the Soviet Cosmonauts.

Yet, with the exception of a few terrible accidents or the activities of emerging economies, the media doesn’t seem to care one bit about the universe beyond our own ozone.

When George W. Bush talked of expeditions to Mars and colonizing the moon, he was laughed at. We won’t claim that Dubya was any kind of great President, but space travel isn’t a joke. It’s incredible, but somewhere along the line, people stopped caring about it. Because of that, you might not have heard about some of the coolest things to be happening out there.

For example, there’s a Dutch corporation called “Mars One.” Mars One has a glorious plan hitherto only thought of in speculative fiction: a permanent colony on Mars. The game plan for the Mars One crew is to send four people to Mars to establish a permanent residence … and then two years later, Mars One will send another four, and then another four after that every two year interval.

And what timeline have these glorious terraformers given themselves? 2023. That’s right, space fans: if all goes according to schedule, by 2023, the first four humans to ever land on Mars will be on their way. What’s the kicker? They stay there … forever. It’s a pretty hefty price, but more than just four will be clamoring for the opportunity.

But ignoring the fact that conquering the stars has been a human dream for centuries, there’s another reason why Mars One’s plan is totally earth-shattering: privatized space travel.

We all know Virgin Atlantic has been working on it for years, but Mars One plans on delivering, and in a big way. What this could do is open up an entirely new industry to boost the world economy — by leaving it behind.

These programs, as well as the initiatives made by NASA and other international space associations, are worthy of widespread attention, so why aren’t they getting it?

Although many took to the web to share with their friends and followers about Curiosity, the NASA Mars rover that landed on the red planet, the monumental accomplishment in space exploration was quickly forgotten by the public and social media.

Only weeks after landing on Mars, the Curiosity rover found signs of water upon discovering an ancient streambed. According to William Dietrich of UC Berkeley, we can infer that water once flowed at approximately three feet per second at levels that could reach one’s hip. Ladies and gentlemen, we found traces of WATER on MARS. Yet, no one seems to be talking about it.

How is it that a far less impressive (but impressive nonetheless) technological advancement such as the release of a new iPhone sends people into a frenzy, but very few even know that we have pictures of our moon shot from Mars? Why is it that these accomplishments are not receiving the attention they deserve? Is space not cool enough for the public to pay attention?

The things that we as a human collective are achieving in the realm of space exploration are literally out of this world, so let’s act like it.

Many people on the Earth today vividly remember the day we landed on the moon. When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon, everyone was talking about it. Space was a big fucking deal back then.

Although the times and circumstances are different now, one thing that remains constant is the innovation and curiosity that is driving our space programs all over the world. Back then, it wasn’t just the scientists and space enthusiasts that shared this passion to pursue the exploration of planets and places outside of our atmosphere; the people felt it too. We as a human race were so invested in the idea that we could reach the final frontier, we believed in possibilities outside of this planet.

Before NASA sent Apollo 11 into space, people were dreaming about it. Before we landed a probe on Mars, people wondered what prospects our red neighbor held. We don’t just need scientists and a spaceship, we need curiosity.

Ryan Cady is a third-year psychology and English double major. He can be reached at rcady@uci.edu.
Sarah Menendez is a second-year literary journalism and political science double major. She can be reached at smenende@uci.edu.

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