It is my belief that space exploration should not be a pastiche of missions, undertaken as individual missions are conceived and (under)funded. Rather, a long term plan of systematic exploration and colonization should be undertaken. By long term I mean in the region of five hundred years (or a thousand). A systematic plan that transcends temporary political concerns will enable us to put systems into place and build the tools that will (over time) help us reap the benefits of economies of scale. Space exploration and colonization is the most important and sane endeavour we can undertake. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that we will build the political and economic systems to allow such long-term planning; but we can only do what we can do, and hope.
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