Small Steps

That was some giant leap.

40 years ago Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. Now astronauts fix clogged plumbing in orbit and orbital telescopes look for planets elsewhere in the galaxy. But without manned exploration there is little romance left in the space program.

Some blame a failure of imagination, and some blame budget cuts, but I think the real culprit is physics. Apollo missions took a couple weeks. Martian missions would take 2-3 years. The logistics are daunting, not to mention the adjustment in time zones.

In an era of massive deficits and bailout blues, spending hundreds of billions on the romantic notion of interplanetary travel seems frivolous. While they laughed at Columbus, his mission at least had a commercial goal. Until space travel can pay for itself, we will likely remain mostly earthbound.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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