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Fri, Apr 06, 2012

Retired Rocket Scientist Warns: Mars Mission Is Dangerous

Wally Nelson Is The Subject Of A Documentary Film Outlining His Concerns

While NASA, President Obama, and others talk sometimes wistfully about sending men to Mars, one retired rocket scientist is warning that the journey would be very dangerous, and a University of Central Florida film professor has produced a documentary to make that point.

The film, "Wally's Mission on Mars", premiered Sunday at the Gasparilla international Film Festival in Tampa, FL. In it, the 88-year-old retired rocket scientist expresses his concerns about the financial, technical, and ethical considerations of a manned flight to Mars. "It's nine months to get there, you have to stay there 18 months before you can come back, then it takes nine months to get back," he told the Orlando Sentinel. "And all the time, astronauts are in a spacesuit or a can."

Nelson had been involved in the aerospace industry for more than 30 years from the late 1950's to the early '90s. He worked for the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, which later became NASA, as well as stints with contractors Glenn L. Martin and McDonnell Douglas.

The filmmaker is Lisa Mills, who had aspirations of becoming an astronaut before getting involved in journalism and reporting extensively on the space program. The film follows Nelson over five years of his life as he spreads his message from Florida's Space Coast to Washington, D.C., where he meets with NASA officials and Florida Senator Bill Nelson, himself a former astronaut.

While Wally Nelson is politely received by what some call the "NASA-Industrial complex", he said he doesn't really think the film will change anyone's mind. "I would think they're just going to ignore it," he told the paper. (NASA image of Martian landscape.)



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