It takes the human race a long time to learn. The space race started as a Cold War competition. Then It was kept going by NASA bureaucrats who wanted to maintain their budget. Finally, the real reason to go to the stars has emerged. Because it’s fun!
Didn’t you feel that we had turned an important corner when Elon Musk sent one of his red convertibles into space? I’m sure he had lots of people wanting to send serious payloads — but he chose whimsy! That’s his brand; doing whatever he likes because it makes him feel good. And he brings the cost of innovation way down too — $90M to launch one of his giant rockets versus $450M to launch a STS (Space Shuttle)
And if he finds people willing to risk their lives for a piece of history, like landing on Mars, he will be able to do it because no one ever stops individuals from risking their lives. We only judge politicians who risk other people’s lives. I think I read he plans on the first mission to Mars being in 2022, a cargo mission getting ready for a manned mission in 2024.
I can hardly wait! The real race into space has just started.