RE: Manned VS Unmanned

From: Edward Ehrlich (
Date: Thu Feb 06 2003 - 14:53:06 EST

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    The attempts to justify the manned space program by describing the
    amount of scientific research it has accomplished are due to failure for
    two reasons.
    1. The scientific results don't come close to justifying the enormous
    costs in lives and money.
    2. It is clear that the reasons of those who support the continuation of
    manned space exploration (and that includes myself) have little to do
    with scientific research.
    Manned flight is something like climbing Mt. Everest (another dangerous
    and expensive activity).  Everest climbers may use all sorts of reasons
    to get the necessary funding to make the climb (scientific research,
    documentaries, publicity for sponsors, book contracts), but none of them
    claim that the real reason they climb Everest is so that they can film a
    new documentary.  They do it because in some strange way, reaching the
    top of Everest gives them a sense of accomplishment and meaning in their
    lives...because it's there.
    Let's not pretend that manned space flight is any different.  Neil
    Armstrong's first steps on the Moon were truly an historic event,
    because the human race was able to land someone safely on Earth's Moon
    and not because of the geological data (as important and interesting as
    it might be) that was gathered during the trip.  If the real goal was
    merely to gather Moon rocks, there were much, much safer (and cheaper)
    ways of doing so.
    The manned space program should be about exploration.  It should be
    about "going where no man has gone before".  It should be about
    extending ourselves and replenishing the human spirit because we human
    beings need great art and great music and great challenges.  And that is
    a goal that IS worth the risk and cost of manned space exploration.  The
    human race has enough resources for this goal, and the burden - and
    privilege - of striving for this goal shouldn't fall solely on the
    United States.
    Ed Ehrlich - SkyWatch - The Astronomical Alarm Clock
    <> Jerusalem, Israel
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