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Tito's Inspiration Mars: The Fly in the Flyby Ointment

A reviewer of Poynter's memoir of the Biosphere 2 experience on the American Scientist Web site speaks for much of the scientific community when she says book and project both seemed "haphazard" and "seem to have lacked a clear plan."

Yup.

Real Inspiration

At the press conference quoting Helen Keller, Dr. Clark said: "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

Maybe so, but how we approach it can mean the difference between a daring successful adventure and a daring disastrous adventure. (I had this very conversation with my 17-year-old daughter this morning -- every parent knows what I'm talking about.)

Tito needs funding -- he's not a billionaire, he can't afford the Mars trip alone and that's a good thing. That need might finally force him out of his wealth bubble, force him and the Biosphere folks out of the public eye and get good, disciplined people and companies involved as active partners.

If he can't make that leap, he needs to turn his foundation into something else, an information clearinghouse for Mars missions perhaps. He does not have the freedom to do a half-baked job of a manned Mars flyby, to muck it up. That's one thing he can't do.

This is no mere personal quest, no joyride, no clubhouse game. As he and his team were fond of noting at the press conference, they are setting themselves up to represent the entire species with this project. If they're going to be so bold as to claim they can do it, they have an obligation to get it right.

-- Written by Carlton Wilkinson in Asbury Park

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