Latest blog post: An unforseen hiatus. (2023-01-02)
We're technologically capable of building a moon base right now, and probably a Mars base once we'd cut our teeth on the Moon one. What's holding us back is willingness to spend the requisite huge piles of money.
As for interstellar missions, if you set the bar low enough we've already done that. At least one of the Voyagers has already passed the heliopause and is now officially in interstellar space. Of course, it's already visited all of its planned destinations and is moving aimlessly now, and if it did reach another solar system it couldn't accomplish anything there, so that probably doesn't count.
You could probably revise that to the inane stupidity that is a combination of deficit spending and a frantic pointing and hammering that the debt is a problem to get under control now ("dut da duh, let's give money to Pakistani gender programs. That's efficient" "Why would you do that?!").
The funding is only part of it, more a bureaucratic nightmare of getting the permissions to simply fly. Had the engineers stayed in charge, I would not be surprised to have a 2001 Space Odyssey future. Then there is the legal and like stupidity that makes the questions of arms, claims, and colonization all the more difficult, because of some hypothetical what-ifs.
It's just as glorious as I thought it would be. "So this is the weight of the world..."
As for his decisions, though... come on, Zane. This event has already told the humans that starfaring aliens exist and know about Earth, and that they are not invincible, and given them whatever cultural and technological information they can get by examining the wreck and interrogating its computers and any survivors (and if Gharr survived, he will be attempting a formal First Contact anyway). It's too late to avoid "culture shock" by hiding. Leaving now just means you can't exert control over the situation.
Gotta admit, though, if he thought he might end up doing this, he was right to exclude Ahshu. She would go berserk at this talk about leaving probable survivors to their fate at the hands of trigger-happy natives.
They're in the least bad field of options, and even that is shaded by a bit of a lack of forethought in advising how to handle various situations that could result. For example, the natives blowing a shuttle out of the sky, and capturing crew. Bit of an oversight. I get a real sense of "I need a superior to foist this upon" attitude from Zane, because damn does this situation suck to be the decision maker for.
Of course, he doesn't know that Earth militaries that are space facing, have considered the possibilities, are dealing with them as they speak, and aren't panicking. That gives options. Negotiated extraction is possible. But, it breaks the directive, which again seems too narrow a focus, especially when the situation is already busted open.