Dreams Of A Walk On Mars

John Glenn's final mission is part science and part rocket-fueled curtain call, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod.

For NASA chief Dan Goldin, nostalgia has its place. But his focus is now 50 million miles away, on NASA's next great challenge.

"We are dreamers -- that's what makes this country great," he says. "And we're going to walk on Mars."

Sending man to Mars is Goldin's way to re-ignite passion for space in a public that's seen research replace romance.

NASA's Mars team claims it could land astronauts on the Red Planet in just 8 years -- to explore the mysteries of a 3,000-mile long canyon and a volcano 3 times the size of Everest.

NASA is already working on some of the gadgets and gizmos, like the transhab - an inflatable lightweight space lab.

Dreaming is encouraged at NASA. It's always been the raw stuff behind the right stuff. But dreams cost money.

In this post-Apollo era -- with money harder to come by -- the dream of manned flights to Mars is having trouble getting off the ground.

These days, the real money is going to the space station, an orbiting laboratory that's an ongoing two billion dollar a year investment. What's left for exploring mars funds robots -- not people.

In John Glenn's black and white world, NASA pursued its goals whatever the cost. Today they may still dream boldly, but now they must dream within limits.

Reported by Jim Axelrod
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