The 1.5B$ of the Hubble space telescope is mainly NRE, so duplicating it doesn't cost another 1.5B$. I'm not suggesting robotic missions to repair satellites - my position is that launching multiple satellites, for redundancy, is always cheaper than launching manned replair missions. Sending humans to space makes for good prime time TV, but for practical purposes, such as research and communications, it is just not a cost-effective solution.
450M$ to send astronauts into low-Earth orbit? That was what it cost to send the "Spirit" robot to Mars. Value for money?
Battar, the hubble website states the cost of the Hubble telescope at launch time was $1.5 billion. NASA states the cost of an average shuttle launch is $450 million. Your statement doesn't jibe with the numbers I can find.
The Hubble launched with undiscovered defects in its primary system - and that system was NOT designed for easy on-orbit maintenance. Repairs included humans doing repairs to hardware that wasn't designed to have gloved astronaut hands doing the manipulation, and they succeeded.
Note I've said nothing about inspiring the next generation. I'm talking about humans stepping in to rapidly adapt to unexpected situations.
Intelsat VI would never have been repaired if not for the hands of three astronauts simultaneously - the robotic portions of the original mission to recover and repair the satellite (which was never intended to be serviced in the first place) didn't work. Three astronauts manhandled the satellite into its work cradle.
Its nice to know the community your living in has R&D centers able to allow students to see the tech opportunities of the future. There are still alot of US communities that lack the wealth of tech companies able to inspire children to purse STEM based careers. I'm currently working in an Alabama county school district where the unemployment rate is about 7%.
My goal as an Electronics and Robotics Technology instructor is to show high school students the future opportunities in electrical-electronics engineering by establishing a open Maker Lab space learning environment. This lab is to allow students to develop technical skills in soldering, reading circuit schematic diagrams, building analog, digital, and microcontroller devices. The Governor of Alabama has established a Workforce Development Committee to aid high school technology centers, like the one I'm working at, to help inspire high school students to pursue STEM based careers. Also, some students will have opportunities to be employed with small to midsize manufacturing companies after graduating from high school based on the technical training received at the technology centers. This too, will help the Alabama economy and inspire the next batch of elementary and middle school students to receive the same technical training.
Well put Charles--I agree with you completely. I'm afraid we have turned the corner on providing any real "fixes" to our economic condition within the next two or even three decades. It appears to me the will to do so does not exist in Washington. The political types can think of every reason to play the "small game" and not the "big game" of putting us back into competition with the Chinese and the Indians. When the shuttle program was finished and no follow-up plans were approved for manned-missions, I knew we were in for a real letdown. The space program inspired thousands of kids--this one included.
Humans in space may be adaptable, bu they are not cost-effective. Your comment about Hubble is only partially true, in the sense that for less than the price of a shuttle maintenance flight (including training), you could have sent up a second Hubble telescope. Inspiring kids with spaceflight doesn't impress me.
There are many ways to inspire kids to take up science, and judging by the number of bright young engineers working in high-tech in my neighbourhood, someone isn't doing such a bad job (within 2 hours drive of my humble home there are R&D centres of Google, Sandisk, Intel, TI, Broadcomm, Marvell, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Freescale and many others).
Battar, robots do not have the adaptability of humans. Hubble was orignally designed with maintenance in mind, but even so required fixes that they didn't plan for. Having humans on site saved the telescope. The Galileo robotic probe was a partial failure - its high gain antenna didn't deploy so the data rate was greatly reduced. Had a human been available the antenna could have been fixed.
Humans adapt quickly. Robots cannot match that yet.
Battar, NASA is finding productive work without human-based flight. As for inspiring our youth, I'm not so sure we're doing a great job of that these days. For math skills among 15-year-olds, we're tied for 27th with Lativa. Hong Kong is number one. I think a great number of our kids want to be pop stars.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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