Don't take a robot's job!
James Van Allen was a true American space hero. A year before his death in 2006, he summed-up manned space flight: "It's so old-fashioned." (personal comment to Robert Park)
Bob Park has been harping on this issue for years now on his blog-newsletter, What’s New. In his opinion, manned space flight is absolutely wasteful of our resources and a diversion that prevents real scientific discovery from being achieved. According to Dr. Park, robots are so much better at exploration that humans have no business even trying to explore space –personally that is. It just so happens that we are exploring when we send our robots out there. No doubt they are better than we are: they don’t complain, they can withstand the environment; cold; hot; no air; high radiation; monotony; and possibly dangers we don’t even know about for sure (like the Van Allen radiation belts were). And their eyes and ears and even their sense of touch are better than ours. On top of that, they have senses we never will have. More importantly they can be better at sharing what they find. We humans learn more when we send a robot to do space exploration than we would ever learn by sending another human! Not to mention that losing even one person in a space flight mishap is an incalculable loss, while the loss of a robot is measured in money and time spent by the scientists that create it. It hurts, but we get over it. Actual cost in dollars will always be smaller for sending robots as opposed to humans, more work will always get done when we send a robot and more is learned when we send a robot. –Why in the world would we even consider sending a human to do a robot’s job?
As budgets are planned for our space exploration and domination, we need to realize how much more we get from robots going out there than from people going out there and get more excited about the return for our effort. If we decide that it is more exciting to send a robot, based on the logical reasons for doing so, than it is to send people into that dangerous environment, then maybe our political leaders will be less inclined to take advantage of our emotions with all the grand talk of sending a human crew.
T. Troy Stark