Recent publicity indicates that there is interest in colonizing Mars in the not-so-distant future. In my opinion we should focus on colonizing the Moon first. The lessons learned from logistics, technology, and the human psychology of living off Earth could then be applied to an expedition to Mars. In addition, the moon could be used as a staging area and for collection of water (ice from polar craters and hydrolysis using solar energy) for the journey. Telescopes and communications within the vacuum of space could be established, and a chemical energy laser could be set up for aiding solar sailing and maybe remediating Near Earth Objects.
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