This scene has been in my head ever since I started working on the outline for AMoS back in 2001. Mark says the fragmentary quotes from the Martians are Wildean, which I am going to take as a compliment.
By the time you read this, the Spirit rover on Mars will almost certainly have driven off its lander platform. First, the engineers in charge of the rover will order Spirit to disconnect the cable which connects it to the lander platform, which will leave the platform dead and inert. Then Spirit will roll down one of the lander's petals and onto Martian soil. Then the science begins.
But until the science begins... it's 24 hour, non-stop partying for Spirit!!
Forgive me, I'm a bit punchy right now (a common theme of these "Mark sez" columns, it seems.) There are two things I would like to touch on, though. First, I would like to give mad shout outs and whatnot to Golden Age and Wunderland, both of whom demonstrated magnificent levels of good taste and smarts by linking to MoS.
Second. Hmm, okay, so, the Moon plan? The details are a bit hazy, sure. Doesn't move beyond the ISS and Shuttle fast enough, yeah, I suppose. A bit politically contrived -- well, given the nature of this Administration or indeed any Administration, who can doubt it? But worth doing? Absolutely. It will be a long time before the Solar System is a boring, civilized place full of ordinary people living their lives, raising children, and commuting into Los Angeles. Maybe centuries will pass before domed cities rise on the Moon and we bring forests and oceans to Mars. But we as a civilization can't keep using the excuse of "oh, it's too far in the future when there are so many immediate problems now" to avoid stepping up to the plate and building that future. The future doesn't just come out of nowhere; it arises from the actions we take today, in the present. So build a little base on the Moon? Hey, it's a start, and that's all that is asked of us here in the boring, tedious present: a start.
It's a small enough thing, really. I think we can handle it.