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U.S. policymakers and others passionate about a human Mars landing are delusional if they believe the nation that ended its first foray into deep space with the Apollo moon landings is on a calculated path to the Red Planet, according to former NASA administrator Mike Griffin.

Current efforts, focused on NASA’s Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM) as a springboard, are fizzling because the U.S. is not the "spacefaring" nation most assume, he told the 17th Mars Society conference in League City, Texas, as part of an Aug. 9 session on exploration.

"There are reasons other than technical why that has not happened. It isn’t about the money," Griffin told the conference organized around Mars Direct, the society’s strategy for establishing a sustained human presence on Mars without intermediate destinations by using current technologies and extracting fuel, life support and construction materials from the planet’s atmosphere and soil.

"The answer is because we are not a spacefaring nation," Griffin asserted. "The bottom line, for me, is that we have better stuff in museums than we have in operations today. I can’t think of another technical discipline in which that statement would be true."

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