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Your opinion on space missions

  1. Feb 4, 2006 #1

    Aki

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    I'm writing a research paper for my english course, and I've decided to do my paper on whether or not we should replace all human space missions with unmanned missions. What are your opinions on this matter? And do you know where I can find some articles on this topic? Thanks
     
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  3. Feb 4, 2006 #2

    Pengwuino

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    It is impossible for us to replace all manned missions with unmanned missions with current technology. Humans have some qualities about them that robots just cannot match right now. At least... without making some big changes. Plus why? I'd love to take a trip to space! I'm sure there are countless people that would put their lives on the line just like current astronauts do to be able to be in space.
     
  4. Feb 4, 2006 #3

    Q_Goest

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    I'd agree to an extent. Low Earth orbit missions often require a hands on approach. However, one could equally turn that around and say, "It is impossible for us to replace all umanned missions with manned missions with current technology." Robotic probes to the planets are still the only way to perform those missions, so I think having any kind of mandate that says all missions will be robotic or all missions will be manned is not even a reasonable question.

    The primary thought process behind replacing manned missions with unmanned ones is safety related. As P' said:
    The issue isn't however, can we find people that will risk their life, the issue is whether or not the rest of us are willing to risk their lives. Obviously we are not willing to risk other people's lives unnecessarily. Manned missions are rated differently than unmanned ones. The risk factor involved is a calculated one and it has a specific name though I can't remember what it is now. The way it's calculated is that they have a predetermined expected failure rate for each component, and the risk of a catastrophic failure is calculated from those failure rates. There's an article in Sci Am here that touches on calculated failure rates here.
    http://www.econ.canterbury.ac.nz/pe...ing/HealthEcon/Risk/space shuttle risks1.html

    But catastrophic failure isn't the only consideration. A trip to Mars for example will expose astronauts to massive amounts of radiation if they were unprotected. That's another calculated risk that must be factored in. Here's a few references for that:
    http://www.aiaa.org/aerospace/images/articleimages/pdf/notebookmay04.pdf
    http://techreports.larc.nasa.gov/ltrs/PDF/2004/aiaa/NASA-aiaa-2004-6027.pdf
     
  5. Feb 4, 2006 #4

    Pengwuino

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    I don't see why society needs to decide if the risk is worth it or not. If the person going into space knows what the risks are, it should be his/her call. It's his life, his risk and as long as they really want to go, the risk should not be based on losing a human life.
     
  6. Feb 5, 2006 #5

    Aki

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    Pengwuino, I see your point. Going into space is indeed a big risk, and I'm sure most of the astronauts are willing to sacrifice themselves. But I still think that safety's first. I don't think there is much that humans can do that robots can't do. Like for repairs of satellite, the Canadarm can do the job. I don't think there's really a need to sent people up to space and risk these lives. This would be a different case if the liquid oxygen and hydrogen problem was resolved. I think until we build safer shuttles, we shouldn't send anyone up into space.
     
  7. Feb 5, 2006 #6

    Pengwuino

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    Well what is "safer"? How far can you go until one is satisfied? I mean we've lost VERY few people in space exploration compared to almost anything mankind has ever done. The Canadarm, like anything, is limited in what it can do. Humans are very versatile and are capable of doing a number of things though and should have their chance in space just like the Canadarm.
     
  8. Feb 5, 2006 #7

    Integral

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    What is the purpose for man in space? What unique function does he provide?

    The problem with man is space is not the safety, it is the cost. When men go into space the entire point of the mission is simply to keep the men alive. Science takes a backseat. This is not the best use of our resources at this time. There is so much that can be done without man that economics says that we should stay on the ground and let the robots do the initial explorations. Send men iff they find something that can justify it.

    Sell the ISS to Space Hilton Ltd. let them turn it into a low gravity honeymoon suite. That way if you have a hangering to get into space and live in a tube you can do it.
     
  9. Feb 6, 2006 #8

    Aki

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    Does anyone know when is the next lauch?
     
  10. Feb 6, 2006 #9

    Q_Goest

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  11. Feb 7, 2006 #10

    FredGarvin

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    I used to think that manned missions were the only way to go. Now I am not so sure. I have to agree that, right now, the orbital missions seem to be very high priced lab sessions. Could you imagine what could be done if NASA took all of the money it spends in developing and maintaining systems for supporting life on the next era of missions and put it into rebuilding it's brain trust and it's knowledge in robotics missions?
     
  12. Feb 7, 2006 #11

    enigma

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    I think that completely eliminating manned missions would be remarkably shortsighted. Assuming our society continues to function, we will want to send up a manned mission at some point in the future. It is in our nature to be curious and want to explore.

    Right now, we have four decades of experience with men in space. If we stop entirely and focus solely on robotic missions, we'd have to relearn all of the basic skills if the winds change in a decade or a century and we want to send men and women up again.
     
  13. Feb 7, 2006 #12

    Aki

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    But with current technology and the current need for space exploration, do you think that it is necessary for NASA to be spending billion dollars of tax payer's money just to send a few people up there for no incredible productive reasons?
     
  14. Feb 22, 2006 #13
    come on now.. think logically folks :) we're engineers..
    do we really want to put men on mars? in those scorching temperatures.. as others have hinted on, you need a balance of the two. with current technology it takes years to travel to the outer planets.. would you send a human or a robot to pluto? clearly a robot.. humans would lose their mind, or die..

    in low orbit missions, the moon etc.. humans do add in extra cost for safety. but not much.. its not like an unmanned mission shuttle doesnt have life support etc, or chairs, or that type of stuff in it.. thats all basic..
    in low orbit.. its so much easier to let thumans to repairs and builds because they can perform a lot of different jobs.. and again in low orbit there isnt a delay in radio signal.. i dont remember the time it takes for the signal to reach mars, but there is a "long" lag for controlling the robots there...
     
  15. Feb 22, 2006 #14
    I think its about a 20 min delay for sending radio signals to mars, so yeah, not really ideal for robotics. The time delay does change slightly since the relative distance between the earth and mars is not constant.

    I think that most space launches sholud be cancelled, and all the money that would have been spent on them should be spent on research on new propulsion systems, and possibly better ways of protecting against radiation, although, if the times of travel between earth, mars and the moon were shorter (thanks to better propulsion systems), this because a bit pointless since there will be less exposure anyway. The point is, there should be more sent on the research.
     
  16. Feb 22, 2006 #15
    before you say that... how much do they spend on the research.. hand how much on the application/launches? because i know for a fact they do a lot of research thats NEVER used..
     
  17. Feb 22, 2006 #16

    russ_watters

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    Um.... so far every probe we've sent past the moon has been robotic and the points made above (about cost vs value) stand: they work very well even with such time delays. For probes like Cassini currently orbiting Saturn and the Voyagers doing flybys, the path and tasks are pre-programmed months (years?) in advance with little input from ground control. But if the controllers on the ground want more input, the Mars rovers set the standard: actions are planned a day at a time.

    Besides - the point of robotic craft is to reduce human intervention. They shouldn't need constant control from Houston, but should be near completely autonomous - and the more autonomous the better.
     
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