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Clarke Laments Space Progress

September 24, 2002

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HOUSTON (AP) _ ``We’re lucky to get to Mars in 2020,″ said renowned science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, lamenting the progress the world has made in space exploration.

Clarke, who spoke by telephone from his home in Sri Lanka, was among the participants in an event Monday commemorating the 40th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s speech at Rice University, where he set forth his goal of landing on the moon.

A panel discussion was held at Rice Stadium, site of Kennedy’s speech on Sept. 12, 1962. Clarke spoke about how Kennedy’s words, which once inspired the race to space, have now fallen on deaf ears.

``The end of the Cold War removed one of the main motivations for the space race,″ he said. ``We’ve reached the stage where not one nation, not even the United States can do it alone. (Space exploration) should be a global enterprise.″

Clarke, best known for the novel and film ``2001: A Space Odyssey,″ said ``the cost of taking human beings to the space station in orbit could be $200″ one day.

California businessman Dennis Tito, who became the world’s first space tourist when he paid $20 million for a ride on a Russian rocket to the international space station, joked, ``Did Arthur Clarke say $200 to go into space? I wonder if I can get my money back?″

Tito said he’s disappointed that ’N Sync singer Lance Bass would not be the latest space tourist because his flight would have inspired a great amount of interest by young people.

``I think we will see more citizens flying. The public can identify more with private citizens flying,″ he said. If the cost drops, ``we will see space flight become more a part of our culture.″

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