I was nine years old when the Challenger chrashed. My mother was in Houston, TX for a business trip at the time of the accident, and she brought me a Challenger-t-shirt, which i still wear. For a short time I became very interested in space travel.
About a week ago, I found an old DDR-book about cosmonauts and space ships. The sputnik had just been launched, peacefully circuiting the orbit, and the Soviets were still ahead of the game. Depicted on the last page is a lovely communist utopia on mars.
Some time during the Iraq war, I heard a member of the Bush-government interviewed on NPR about the US' budget for NASA projects. He said, obviously the US had to invest in the Mars-project because Earth isn't going to be habitable forever.
Manifest space travel, like manifest ideology, is a short story of failed dreams and misguided ambition.