[Space exploration] is in financial trouble. Yet by many standards, such missions are inexpensive. Mariner Jupiter/Saturn costs about the same as the American aircraft shot down in Vietnam in the week in which I am writing these words (Christmas 1972). The Viking mission itself costs about a fortnight of the Vietnam war.
I find these comparisons particularly poignant: life versus death, hope versus fear. Space exploration and the highly mechanized destruction of people use similar technology and manufacturers, and similar human qualities of organization and daring. Can we not make the transition from automated aerospace killing to automated aerospace exploration of the solar system in which we live?
His thoughts on discovery versus destruction, from the same 1971 panel on Mars exploration that gave us Ray Bradbury’s romantic ode to Darwin and exploration.
How appropriate this is today. It puts our priorities squarely in view, like a mirror to the soul of mankind. Do we like what we see?
(via Brain Pickings)