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Tomorrow's editorials: The Red Line and the red planet

Here are previews of editorials we're working on. Let us know what you think. The best comments will run alongside the editorials in the print edition.

--The idea of single-tracking the proposed light rail Red Line through a tunnel in West Baltimore no doubt fills the city's transit riders with trepidation. The idea, being floated as a means to bring the costs of the project under federal guidelines, is similar to one employed during the initial construction of the existing north-south light rail line. The single-tracking of sections of that line caused unending operational headaches and delays, and recent rail crashes in Washington and San Francisco no doubt raise concerns about whether a single-track tunnel under Cooks Lane would be safe.

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However, it's important to remember that a Red Line with some single tracking would certainly be better than no Red Line at all and that the proposal here is for one section of single track, not the multiple sections that bedeviled the existing line. Planners need to carefully consider the costs and benefits of this alternative, but it shouldn't necessarily be rejected out of hand.

--It's easy to feel that, 40 years after man first walked on the moon, our exploration of space has taken a step backward. Absent the imperative of beating the Soviets, we have let NASA's budget and ambitions shrink, and it's easy to understand why – we've been launching manned missions to build a space station that has yielded little in the way of science that's important back home. What we need is an ambition for manned space travel that has a purpose beyond the mere sake of it. We need to go to Mars, with an eye toward discovering whether human settlement there is possible. That would provide a goal not only to inspire a new generation of scientists, engineers and explorers but also to secure the long-term survival of our species.

(NASA illustration)

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