History shows just how vulnerable space programmes, which require years of planning and development spanning several administrations, are.
No-one has visited the Moon since 1972. But with the advent of commercial human spaceflight, the urge to return is resurgent and generating a new space race.
Neowise is the first bright comet to be visible with the naked eye from the northern hemisphere since the mid-1990s.
It will be one of the most daunting, complicated and, potentially, scientifically rewarding missions ever undertaken to the red planet.
At an upcoming summit in early December, NATO is expected to declare space as a "warfighting domain," partly in response to new developments in technology.
Hopes of colonizing Mars rest on the premise that we could terraform the red planet, making it habitable for humans with a breathable atmosphere and clement temperatures.