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Should the US abandon manned spacecraft?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
One of the pushes during the Bush administration was to revamp the aging Space Shuttle program and start regular manned spacecraft visits to the moon and then later on to Mars.

Meanwhile, there has been great advancements in robots and they have sent back a wealth of information over the years. Robots don't have the physical and emotional limits that humans do. They can be sent on assignment for the rest of their "lives".

Is the purpose of the space program to gather information of the universe or to say that we've been there?

I think the manned spacecraft projects should be limited to our current obligations and the money spent on programs that increases our knowledge of the universe via cheaper and more effective robots.
post #2 of 13
If you can find it, I recommend "Fallen Angels," a book by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and others.

There is a "theme song" running through it. It's called "Wanted Fan," about how science fiction has been banned. It's to the tune, "Wanted Man," by Johnny Cash.

One of the great lines in the song:

"If it hadn't been for NASA, we'd at least have gone to Mars."

Wanted Man
post #3 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by katachtig View Post
Meanwhile, there has been great advancements in robots and they have sent back a wealth of information over the years. Robots don't have the physical and emotional limits that humans do. They can be sent on assignment for the rest of their "lives".
It will still be a long time till AI can even remotely measure up to what the human mind can do. It is those very emotions, that while they can hamper us, that allow for planning and quick actions.

Unmanned probes are fine, for observation and places where humans cannot yet go. But there's no replacement for manned flights yet.
Of course, there's the question of if we ever do develop AI to that extent - would it be ethical it send it out like that?
post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by katachtig View Post
Is the purpose of the space program to gather information of the universe or to say that we've been there?
I think that is exactly the crux of the matter. Robots are proving to be very capable at gathering data. Some robot only missions have failed for reasons that might have been overcome if a human were available to effect repairs. But considering the much greater expense, and of course, human risk of a manned mission the cost of the lost missions might be worth absorbing. I can't say I really know the dollars and cents of it though.

People talk about pushing towards humans populating other worlds and that for that reason we need manned missions to gather data about how humans might survive both a long space flight and the hostile environment of another world. That seems very premature to me. I think there is a lot more information about the nature of other worlds and what, if anything, a human population might be able to do there that needs to be gathered before there is any reason to even talk about how to enable humans to travel to and survive living on another world. If robots can do the information gathering they should.
post #5 of 13
im all for the exploration of space, manned or unmanned, as long as we can get some new info, im a huge fan of learning about that stuff one of my fave shows is the universe, and im a big fan of the show "the universe"
post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by strange_wings View Post
It will still be a long time till AI can even remotely measure up to what the human mind can do. It is those very emotions, that while they can hamper us, that allow for planning and quick actions.

Unmanned probes are fine, for observation and places where humans cannot yet go. But there's no replacement for manned flights yet.
Of course, there's the question of if we ever do develop AI to that extent - would it be ethical it send it out like that?
Sure there things humans can do that robots can't. But is there anything we currently need from a space mission that can't be done by robots? That's the question, I think.
post #7 of 13
I LOVE Niven and Pournelle, I have read two, really, really great books by them, Lucifer's Hammer, about a comot strike that hit Earth, awesome, awesome book and Footfall, about an alien invasion. I love both those books and have read them many times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrblanche View Post
If you can find it, I recommend "Fallen Angels," a book by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and others.

There is a "theme song" running through it. It's called "Wanted Fan," about how science fiction has been banned. It's to the tune, "Wanted Man," by Johnny Cash.

One of the great lines in the song:

"If it hadn't been for NASA, we'd at least have gone to Mars."

Wanted Man
post #8 of 13
I wonder which choice is more "economical", or which choice would yield more information, manned or unmanned?
post #9 of 13
The problem with robots, is if there is a mechanical failure with them, then the whole mission would be a failure and a huge waste of money. However, if we are talking space exploration beyond the moon or Mars, then it would have to be a robot. Due to the vast amount of time it would take to get anywhere beyond mars, i'm not sure if many humans could withstand that long of travel in a small space craft.
post #10 of 13
How long would it take to get to Mars given the current level of technology? I thought it was somewhere between six months to a year but logistically I don't see how it can be done considering the amount of food, water, medical supplies, survival gear and material to build shelter on Mars that would be needed- and these are just the tip of the iceberg. There isn't an environment on Earth that is as harsh and desolate as what we would find on Mars. I think we're still a long way off from a practical manned mission to Mars but it would be the first logical step if humans were to reach out and colonize another planet in our solar system.
post #11 of 13
Where unmanned missions are dedicated to research and study, manned missions dedicated about 80% of their resources to keeping the crew alive. So that is a consideration. And my biggest question on a Mars mission is, what kind of vehicle would be required to leave the surface of Mars and get back into space, how big would it have to be, and how would you get it landed on Mars with an attitude to relaunch in the first place
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by cats4sky View Post
im all for the exploration of space, manned or unmanned, as long as we can get some new info, im a huge fan of learning about that stuff one of my fave shows is the universe, and im a big fan of the show "the universe"
I LOVE that series, Tuesday nights on the History Channel folks, great stuff.
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by ckblv View Post
I LOVE that series, Tuesday nights on the History Channel folks, great stuff.
I just picked up season two of the series tonight (along with Office Home and Student 2007 and TurboTax Fed + State).
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