Will we just point the ship towards any star and commit these resources to a random journey and outcome, or will we know a LOT about where we are going before the fuel is loaded? Most of us will agree that the latter case for such an expensive "one off" mission is more likely.
Listen up folks: it's time to stop screwing around and find out what's happening on Jupiter's moon Europa -- right now. Seriously, we managed to land a robot on a comet late last year... so what's the hold up? Let's go! Everybody in the van!
Navigation requires a reference frame. We need reference frames to tell us where we are with respect to other objects and we need reference frames to tell us how we are oriented with respect to other objects. There is no single universal frame that is used for all operations.
Imagine looking up and seeing a ring of little pearls in the sky that are human habitats, or knowing there are trees growing on the Moon and the first human babies are being born on Mars who will call it their Home.
Most people look at NASA as a space agency and at my childhood projects as natural activities. However, NASA is probably one of the most successful marketing agencies in the 20th century and my childhood is evidence of its enduring influence on society.
In early December, NASA will take an important step into the future with the first flight test of the Orion spacecraft -- the first vehicle in history capable of taking humans to multiple destinations in deep space.
The recent accidents at Virgin Galactic and Orbital Sciences have stimulated an important discussion not only for space exploration, but also for our national economic future: What level of risk are we willing to accept in order to advance technology and exploration?