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This paper examines post-Apollo proposals for human exploration of Mars and assesses
their failure to win enduring political and public support. There are lessons to be learned
that are applicable to current exploration efforts. Foremost among these is that the path to
solar system exploration that has dominated the space community’s thinking since the 1950s
may not be a logical or politically feasible approach for the 21st century. The paper proposes
that human exploration of the Moon and Mars should be decoupled and treated as separate
ventures with each justified by its own merits and pursued at its own pace.