Sorry science but you have to sit in the back.

Note to science: We'll bring you along, but not riding shotgun. I LOVE science.

BUT

We're not going to explore our solar system for the science. At least not initially.

We're going because it's there.

I got a cool message from Bob Richards of Odyssey Moon yesterday via twitter which sparked this train of thought (whether or not that was his intention is a question you can ask him). He said:

The moon is a place, not a program.

For thousands of years, we've explored wherever we could reach.  We invented new ways to get there, often at a very high cost.  And yes, even at the cost of the lives of adventurous explorers.

We go as soon as we have the means to go.  It's what we do.

We're very good at it.

In 1852, the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India established Mount Everest (it actually got that name later) as the highest peak in the world. Adventurers planned and attempted to climb it for the next 100 years.

People tried for 100 years before getting there.  Many didn't come home.

Finally in 1952, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first to reach the top.

I think you'd have a hard time finding a quote from any of those explorers who said they did it for the science.

They did it because it was there.  Because no one had gone before.

Deep inside us is a spirit of adventure.  It's in you.  You just need to look for it.

When we arrive on other worlds, there are untold countless scientific discoveries to be had. We scientists will have lifetimes worth of things to uncover.

So will artists, musicians, accountants, doctors, and (GASP!) lawyers.

The benefits we enjoy as a result of space exploration make for great presentation fodder when you want government funding. 

It's a benefit, not the point.

We're not going for the science. We're  going because it's there.