Re: Cost of Manned Space Research (was Boston Globe article)

From: Dave Billing (
Date: Mon Feb 10 2003 - 10:08:14 EST

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    Hi Guys,
    First posting though I've been lurking for a long time. I will add my
    thoughts from a country with no money invested in space exploration (or much
    else, come to that).
    I was thrilled to watch the shots coming back from the Mars lander a while
    back and visited the NASA site every day to see the new pictures.
    I have little interest, except in passing, in the pictures coming back from
    the HST because I'm not a physicist but I enjoy reading about the new
    discoveries made by it and love to watch it go overhead. And fully support
    the need for the research. When I was a kid I worried about the coming
    nuclear holocaust because it was in the news a lot but I didn't have many
    facts. But what I worried about most was the end of the solar system and the
    end of the universe. I want answers even though I they will mean nothing to
    me personally. I still have visions occasionally of the sun expanding in a
    massive red ball and engulfing the earth. It gives me shivers. I definitely
    want answers.
    What a staggering feat of engineering it was to orbit that asteroid with a
    small robot. (Sorry I can't remember names). Now this is real needle in a
    haystack stuff. I checked out the pictures from that voyage every day too.
    And then to land ON it. Unbelievable! And gigantic amounts of data. Not only
    do I want to know about asteroids for the sake of the knowledge but one day
    we may have to destroy or divert one to save our skins. Now, no one can tell
    me that we wouldn't know a heck of a lot more about asteroids if half a
    dozen experts had landed on the one.
    This is where the shuttle comes in or, more specifically, manned space
    flight. The shuttles mission is a lot more long term that it seems at first.
    I dream of us routinely flitting through space and, maybe, time one day and
    to find out how to do that we have to be up there. It doesn't really matter
    what we are doing up there. It is incidental, though useful. The ISS must
    stay up there also. It's not about value for money. It is so much more than
    that. When the sun does decide to give up the ghost and fry our planet I
    want my descendants to already be far, far away. I will leave it to those
    descendants to worry about the universe thing.
    As far as I'm concerned we have to go back to the moon and then on to Mars
    ASAP. Then I will fall to sleep easier. Funding should come from the UN so
    that we have a lot more money and we are all contributing. And I can sit in
    peace on the beach on North Shore and watch the ISS and shuttle do their
    Space Odyssey dance through my binoculars.
    > Markus Said:
    > But manned spaceflight itself isn't to blame for that. Manned spaceflight
    > in itself isn't bad just because unmanned spaceflight is underbudgeted.
    > This kind of attitude is exactly what I meant with my previous
    > of "envy" within some scientists ranks. "They're spending money that we'd
    > rather want to be spending."
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