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astromark
2006-Aug-05, 12:15 AM
Why do we persist on the risk to human life and the cost of the maned space program. Let me make clear that I do not wish to discourage the human presence in space. The ISS is and should be a stepping stone into space. Where science and, experiment go on learning to master the hostile environment of space.
We have seen how well robotics can work for us on Mars. Those two landers are still 'alive' well after what was to have been a useful life span of just months. Truly amazing images of the red planets landscape are still being processed. At no risk to humanity.
By sending machines instead of men we open the door for a fraction of the cost. With the latest technical advancements in nano robotics I for see the solar system as no boundary to our probing eye. Are missions being planed along these lines,?

DALeffler
2006-Aug-05, 06:04 AM
Because that's what people do.

By no means, not everyone. Watching other people do what they can't doesn't lessen an individuals hopes and dreams, rather it inspires.

Exspensive inspiration? Sure.

But it's not a question about science. It's a question about what people think it's worth: Two completly disconnected subjects.

Ronald Brak
2006-Aug-05, 06:10 AM
But it's not a question about science. It's a question about what people think it's worth: Two completly disconnected subjects.

I agree they should be kept seperate, including in budget terms. Science should subsidize human travel in space by learning more about space and developing better ways of getting into and travelling through space. It shouldn't subsidize human travel by having its budget given to human travel.

max8166
2006-Aug-05, 10:06 AM
My Government has decided just what you propose. The British Government's position on manned space flight is that it is too expensive, too dangerous and not worth the science. We in Britain only invest in non manned space flight. In consequence we have become a non participating partner through ESA and have a very small space budget. I think it's wrong, and has left our country as a small player. Ok we make some great satellites but it's not a great talking point. In the early days of Space Exploration Britain had a leading role with the Blue Streak Rocket (cancelled in 1972) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Streak_missile since then we have not funded space exploration as we should have and in consequence have fallen behind. I think this was a bad mistake.

SolusLupus
2006-Aug-05, 02:35 PM
Hasn't this been gone over several times?

The thing about sending robots into space is that they're severely hampered compared to humans. There was one claim I heard that it would take hours to days for a machine identify rocks, where it would take a trained geologist a few seconds to minutes. It's not really a matter of cost, but really what you want to get done; and I personally am all for learning how to put people into space.

The primary reason? Because it's more efficient and better in the name of science. Machines didn't fix the Apollo 13, it was humans, for instance. Machines are also very ineffective compared to the potential of humans.

The secondary reason? We need to learn how to get out there and how to survive in space. Someday, we might be living in it, or using it to travel to other worlds! Any leg time we get is good.

Ronald Brak
2006-Aug-05, 03:05 PM
We have the technology right now to send a machine to any planet in the solar system. We'd really be busting our chops just to get three humans to mars and back, and it would be expensive.

Yes, 120 kg of human and spacesuit can do a lot more than 120 kg of robot, but getting that human there and back is very difficult and pricey.

I'd like to see governments funding scientific research. Private individuals can cooperate together to get people into space.

I think that if money is taken from research into merely putting people into space it will actually delay the day that humanity has self sustaining colonies in space as it is the research that makes such colonies possible, just putting boots on other worlds isn't enough.

Ilya
2006-Aug-05, 04:18 PM
Hasn't this been gone over several times?

Yes, for very large values of "several" :)


The thing about sending robots into space is that they're severely hampered compared to humans. There was one claim I heard that it would take hours to days for a machine identify rocks, where it would take a trained geologist a few seconds to minutes. It's not really a matter of cost, but really what you want to get done;

If you include the qualifier "what you want to get done" (which you should!), then it becomes not the matter of cost, but of cost-benefit ratio. It's true that only humans could fix Hubble Space Telescope. It also would have been cheaper to launch a whole new Hubble on an expendable rocket than to fix it at all. It is also true that a geologist on Mars could accomplish in one day what Spirit and Opportunity took one year. Yet the cost of just getting a geologist to Mars (and back!) -- that is "mission overhead" before ANY science is done, -- would pay for at least 50 rovers, possibly 100.

Basically, for the purposes of science in space, humans outperform robots if you have a VERY large budget. Think of as graph with "cost" on X-axis and "science output" on Y-axis. A human mission has very large initial overhead, beyond which relatively small increases produce a lot of science output. A robotic mission produces useful science with a much smaller minimum expenditure, but after the science-to-cost curve has a lower slope than a human mission. I am not sure where two curves intersect (i.e. humans become more cost-effective), but it has to be in the tens of billions dollars range. IOW, far beyond any realistic space science budgets in the foreseeable future. So yes, for the time being space science should be done with robots.


and I personally am all for learning how to put people into space.

Now that's a different goal than "space science" and it obviously should be done by humans. Problem is, NASA can not set its goals clearly.

neilzero
2006-Aug-05, 04:50 PM
We need colonies of humans in space that are long term self sufficient as a backup for space ship Earth. To get to that, we need to take baby step manned missions. Some lives will be lost, just as they are in less necessary traffic fatalities and recreational drugs. Neil

Ilya
2006-Aug-05, 05:17 PM
We need colonies of humans in space that are long term self sufficient as a backup for space ship Earth. To get to that, we need to take baby step manned missions.
A common argument, and a very faulty one. Think of it -- if all of Earth's nuclear arsenals are blown up at once, or if a 10-km "dinosaur killer" asteroid strikes the Earth, Earth will STILL be far more hospitable and more suited for re-colonization than Mars or asteroids or any location in space. So if your goal really is to create a "backup storage" for human race*, then the logical and far more cost-effective solution is to build underground bunkers on Earth with everything you can think of to jump-start civilization.

There are many good arguments for human expansion into space, but this is not one of them.

*As opposed to using it as an excuse for your real goal, which is space colonization in itself

SolusLupus
2006-Aug-05, 06:13 PM
We have the technology right now to send a machine to any planet in the solar system. We'd really be busting our chops just to get three humans to mars and back, and it would be expensive.

Yes, 120 kg of human and spacesuit can do a lot more than 120 kg of robot, but getting that human there and back is very difficult and pricey.

I'd like to see governments funding scientific research. Private individuals can cooperate together to get people into space.

I think that if money is taken from research into merely putting people into space it will actually delay the day that humanity has self sustaining colonies in space as it is the research that makes such colonies possible, just putting boots on other worlds isn't enough.

Eh, I get your point. Maybe when we make it so that people can actually "live" on Mars for a while, and can get there and back at a faster rate...

neilzero
2006-Aug-05, 06:23 PM
I agree: A few human off planet colonies would be "storage of a few humans" and human DNA. The bunkers deep underground are also a high priority. The few visitors to the bunkers at the moment of extinction might be the only humans that survive.
Even if they all die in the bunkers and on the surface; the bunker supplies will help the off planet humans, from the off planet colonies repopulate the Earth. I suggest that we offer some of the brighter persons in our prisons the opportunity to serve all the rest of their sentence deep underground in a "luxurious" simulation of a space habitat at the mass center of an asteroid.
If we have 100 survivors plus 100 from space colonies, Earth's recovery will be faster.
Why is there so little consideration of a one way trip to space? My guess is there would be enough volunteers who would gamble that the technology to permit their safe return (in a decade or so) would develop, and it would be motivation to develop two way space travel thoughout the solar system to save the brave volunteers. Neil

Ilya
2006-Aug-05, 08:40 PM
Why is there so little consideration of a one way trip to space? My guess is there would be enough volunteers who would gamble that the technology to permit their safe return (in a decade or so) would develop, and it would be motivation to develop two way space travel thoughout the solar system to save the brave volunteers. Neil
Because a significant portion of American public would never go for it. NASA is extremely sensitive to offending ANY taxpayer (which is why sex in space is a taboo subject in NASA), and your suggestion would go over like a lead balloon -- never mind there WOULD be plenty of volunteers. In fact, during 1960's "race to the Moon" one NASA engineer did volunteer for a one way trip. He was in his 60's, and figured he'd rather spend one week on the Moon before dying than vegetate in a nursing home. NASA higher-ups were nothing short of horrified.

Agree with what you said about people in space and underground complementing each other re: disaster survival.

astromark
2006-Aug-05, 10:16 PM
I asked the question because it is obvious that the manned space program is just to costly for any govt., to justify. In the face of global reality who would wast those billions of $ on a space program. It does not win votes or elections. We do not like to talk of politics in this forum but, politics is the reason we are not all ready on Mars. Its all about the money. I to see the need for sustainable deep space exploration. Our long term survival will depend on it. . . and yes I am well aware this subject has been kicked around before. I have not seen a fresh idea in this forum for the two years i have been reading this stuff. That is why I am here, a discussion is all I am looking for. Its all part of the learning process. I am allowed to be wrong. I have given myself that right.
What I expected to get from this subjects reposting was a conversation about the machinery that could explore the solar system for us. Cheaply, safely and now. Not in the thirty year plan that has not even been decided on. To make my point louder just look at how much progress has been made since Apollo 17.___________________________________ ? Oh yes we have the ISS and what else? It is now 2006. will I live long enough to see men back exploring the moon.

Kaptain K
2006-Aug-06, 04:55 AM
Question: What do the projected cost of cleaning up after hurricane Katrina and one year of the war in Iraq have in common?

Answer: Either one is 20 times NASA's current annual budget!:eek:

Van Rijn
2006-Aug-06, 06:00 AM
If you include the qualifier "what you want to get done" (which you should!), then it becomes not the matter of cost, but of cost-benefit ratio. [snip]
Basically, for the purposes of science in space, humans outperform robots if you have a VERY large budget. Think of as graph with "cost" on X-axis and "science output" on Y-axis.

This is true now. If we put a real effort into lowering the cost of launch to orbit, and developing a real combined commericial/government space infrastructure, I believe that will change substantially. As long as we accept the status quo, it isn't going to change.

ASEI
2006-Aug-12, 08:47 PM
Robots can do science for far less of a cost than people can. But if you want the rest of the solar system to be worth something to mankind, rather than remain a curiosity for astronomers, you have to get people out there/set up bases/expand our presence. That's the purpose of manned space travel, IMO.