The 1969 moon landing capped an era of enormous optimism about what humanity could achieve. Since then our species has turned its vision inward; our image of human possibility has grown cramped and pessimistic. We dream less of reaching the stars than of winning the next election; less of maturing as a species than of shunning those who are different; less of the blessings of an advanced technological tomorrow than of an apocalyptic future marked by a desperate struggle to survive. Maybe a focus on the possibility of reaching our nearest planetary neighbor will help change all that. Mars has long fascinated us. The ancients associated it with various gods. Venus shines brighter in the sky, but somehow we have always known that our destiny lies with Mars.
Stephen L. Carter is a Bloomberg View columnist. He is a professor of law at Yale University