I totally think that sending a Person to Mars would be a good thing, also it would be very cool to put on your CV. So it should be right there on the list of things Humans should be doing.
|artists impression of "manned" mars mission.|
Right there next after "Cure cancer".
That's actually pretty high on the list.
"Cure cancer" is already at number 2.
Behind number 1) "Save all those people who are dying from things - that WE ALREADY KNOW HOW TO CURE or prevent" like malaria, TB, etc etc
See, I am not AGAINST Mars, I'm just FOR preventing preventable deaths.
The estimates of cost of a manned mission to Mars range from 20Billion USD to 450 billion USD, which presumably could be better spent elsewhere according to .... well every-fucking-body who is currently dying from cancer or a currently incurable disease.
Its not just the money, its the mind-space and legislative time that would be required to be devoted to this project.
For example, in the US which presumably would be the largest western contributor to a multi-national programme have a system of appropriations bills which authorize the government to spend money for some specific project. According to the United States Constitution (Article I, Section 7, clause 1)  these bills must originate in the house of representatives.
(@todo reference this) Unfortunately the US typically elect a bunch of no-brain anti-science idiots to the house of representatives, hence this type of political project would consume legislative time and brain-space for the few US politicians who know the first thing about science.
Also, if you want to spend half a trillion dollars in space, there are a bunch of interesting projects that have some near term benefits. Some examples are;
- Space "Junk" collectors
- Earth Orbit located solar power stations
- A Space Elevator.
- Earth-strike defence technology research.
Notes & References
Its funny how partisan groups have self-acknowledged ridiculously optimistic estimates of cost.
Some costs and proposals for a Mars trips - 30 Billion vs 450 Billion USD
I think George Bush senior was pretty canny in suggesting that a trip to Mars would cost 450 billion, "President George H. W. Bush in 1989 at $450 billion" because no-one believe that from a Republican estimate, so we all think "at least a trillion US", then. Which is such a fucking ridiculous amount of money, (that's almost a whole war!!) which pretty much puts an end to it.