To Infinity…And Beyond!

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Okay, so the president didn’t go all Buzz Lightyear in his NASA speech today, but he might want to consider it next time. Instead, Obama soberly announced his goals for “revitalizing” the U.S. space program, including a manned spaceflight to Mars by the year 2030. To get an idea of how challenging it will be to reach Mars (hint: it’s not just like two trips to the moon with a stopover at the Big Boys rest area on the way), here’s some essential reading: Jeffrey Kluger’s fascinating 2004 TIME cover story and Ben Wallace-Wells’ terrific 2006 Rolling Stone piece, both of which detail the scientists and Mars geeks who have been puzzling over the Mars problem for decades already.