Bush's Mission to Mars proposal on first glance is exciting. But on closer examination it is revealed as little more than election year posturing with no serious effort by the administration to follow up on Bush's rhetoric.
Bush Co. is proposing a whopping 5 percent increase in NASA's budget to finance its proposal or about $1 billion over five years. This is worse than a joke, it is an insult to the intelligence of the American people. A typical space shuttle flight costs $500,000, so we get the equivalent of two extra space shuttle launches over five years (saying nothing about the cost of building another space shuttle to replace the one that just blew up.)
Bush Co. has tried to spin this initiative as being comparable to what Kennedy did in 1961 when he launched the Apollo project. But Kennedy went much further than just flapping his jaw to back up his proposals. NASA's budget was doubled the very next year and then doubled again the year after that.
Bush Jr.'s proposal is more like the one his father made in 1989 on the 20th anniversary of the first manned moon landing. The first President Bush called for lunar colonies and a Mars expedition as well, but like his son he did nothing else to make it happen and the proposal went nowhere.
The Apollo missions cost about $150 billion in 2003 dollars which just shows how far off Bush's proposal is from reality.
If anything, Bush has made our prospects of going back to the moon or sending a manned mission to Mars much worse by bankrupting the government with his fiscally irresponsible trillion dollar tax cuts.