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Maclean NASA retiree says humans will one day walk on Mars

SCIENCE FACT: Manned missions to Mars may still be a long way off but former NASA sub-contractor Vince Schultz is certain they will happen.
SCIENCE FACT: Manned missions to Mars may still be a long way off but former NASA sub-contractor Vince Schultz is certain they will happen.

THE timing of The Daily Examiner's phone call to Vince Schultz about his views on the latest NASA announcement about Mars couldn't have been better.

The Maclean retiree, who worked as a sub-contractor on NASA's training manuals for moon landings and the space shuttles, was listening to an audio book of The Martian, the novel that inspired the latest in a long line of Hollywood blockbusters about space travel.

"It's very well written and accurate in its science, but done in a light-hearted way," Mr Schultz said.

"I can't wait to go down and see the movie."

Mr Schultz said the plot reminded him of his days working for NASA.

"When you're doing things for the space shuttle there was no 'good enough'," he said.

"Everything had to meet the most exacting standards. Each thing you did was tested and re-tested.

"It was very demanding but I loved it."

Mr Schultz was speaking after NASA last week announced they had uncovered the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars.

While the announcement sparked widespread excitement Mr Schultz does not expect to see a Mars mission in his lifetime but does believe man will eventually make the journey, "because it's there".

"The reason we go is not going to be for something as silly as fears of global warming or overpopulation," he said.

"We will find ways to feed a growing population. We've got to do it smarter."

While travel to Mars may be some time off, Mr Schultz believes before then private enterprise will encourage journeys into space as "space tourism".

"There's not much doubt about that," he said.

Mr Schultz said the lack of focus on exploring space since the heady days of moon landings and space shuttles was lamentable.

He said the by-products of the space race had turned out to be some of the most useful products we know.

"Think about Teflon, Velcro, super glue, Kevlar, space pens," he said.

Topics:  mars, nasa, space



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