To quote in part:
"[Mars] Pathfinder cost the same as the budget of the movie 'Waterworld'
and got much better reviews," [Donna] Shirley said.
[NASA Administrator Daniel] Goldin predicted that a revolution in
transportation will occur in the next 50 years, comparable to the
revolution in communications of the past half-century.
He sketched out a paradigm for future exploration: First, man will
establish robotic colonies, beginning on Mars.
The robots will scout for the best locations and set up infrastructure,
housing, and manufacturing facilities. Then humans will follow, and the
robots will be sent out to explore further in the solar system.
Goldin's other far-reaching visions for the near future include
"smart" spacesuits that monitor astronauts' physical states at all
times; facilities for manufacturing marrow, blood, and even organs
in space; and space telescopes that will reveal features of planets
outside our solar system.
"It's OK to dream again in America," Goldin said. "Science fiction
is becoming reality."
But still, there's the problem of motivation.
Jill Tarter, director of the Phoenix Project for the
Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI),
suggested that humankind would become much
more interested in space exploration if confronted
by the possibility of extinction.
"Fusion, fission, antimatter, will open the entire solar system
to exploration," [Homer Hickam] said. "It takes the will and the
imagination of the people -- this country and the world -- to
make it happen.
"I think we can field one of the drives within 15 years and it
will be just like the solar system has become our neighborhood.
I say we can do it. Let's go."