The equivalent of a bad motel on a trashy beach – Unless you learn how to time travel, if you take your next vacation in a spacecraft, your destination may be a rather barren-looking space rock, a place where you’re not likely to make any exciting new friends.

Phobos is a small, rocky moon of Mars (one of two, but it’s the largest). One reason it may be easy to get to is because it has almost no mass and thus hardly any gravity. Gravity is what makes it so hard to journey to the moon, much less to Mars. In New Scientist, Stuart Clark quotes researcher Pascal Lee as saying, “The bulk of the cost of a Mars mission is getting people to the surface and back again. If you wait for everything to be ready, it will be decades. Phobos offers us a way to get to the very doorstep of Mars.” Maybe we could use it as a launching pad to the red planet, the place we REALLY want to go.

Clark writes that industrialist Norman Augustine says NASA faces a shortfall of $3 billion a year if tries to send astronauts back to the moon by 2020 and even more if we try to go to Mars. This makes Phobos the space equivalent of a cheap trip to a bad beach: not much luxury but a great view.

Due to the current recession, space exploration seems to have been put on hold for now, and a lot of us our cancelling our trips here on Earth as well. Our incredible Dreamland Festival in beautiful Nashville always takes place during the last weekend in June. If you missed it last year (or want to experience it again), here’s your chance, and we have special discounts for subscribers and 2009 festival attendees, who get $12.99 off the discounted price! Only one coupon per order, but it covers all sets in the order. Subscribers, your coupon is in the subscriber section. Festival attendees, you received yours by email.

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