In the wake of the news of budget cuts to NASA from the current administration in the USA, NASA has announced that it can no longer afford to go to the moon, the large white ball sitting a quarter of a million miles away.
Instead, they'd prefer to go to a moon. Phobos to be precise, one of a pair of small grey rocks that orbit the second closest planet to us, Mars.
"Most of the cost of travelling to the moon is getting back," said Lou Narock, a bone fide rocket scientist. "The getting to places is relatively straightforward, you stick people atop a big explosion pointing in the general direction. It is a little dangerous, but not difficult. Getting back is a lot more troublesome, because you have to take everything you need with you. Taking off from somewhere like the Moon, or Mars, requires taking a lot of stuff, but Phobos is tiddly, and we could get back by jumping in the right direction and using the theory that the journey home always takes less time."
Given that NASA no longer has the budget for anything more adventurous than a sneeze, this plan comes as welcome news. However, nay-sayers have found at least one fly to put in the ointment.
"How are we going to lift off when we're retiring the Space Shuttle this year?" asked Phoebe Moss, another rocket scientist. "We've already had to book seats on Virgin Galactic just to get our staff back from the International Space Station. That was hassle, as they don't ordinarily do one way tickets."