Just as we explored the Moon, we sent robots there first to learn how to send people there. It's much easier to send probes to learn how to explore so we can learn what is possible and how to make it possible.
Your observation about Neil Armstrong saving the moon mission by taking over manual control is only half he truth. Before Neil got there, 6 "Surveyor" robotic spacecraft were sent to the moon (this is mid-'60s technology, remember - no "Intel Inside" stickers on the robots). 4 of the robot craft succesfully landed on the moon, with no human pilots at the controls. Two didn't make it, but hey, it's just metal and plastic that got busted, so no one remembers it now.
Battar; Yes, Neil Armstrong completed a successful landing, which a robot might not have been able to do. The original target landing zone was found to be strewn with boulders. By taking manual control, the human pilot saved the mission. In later missions, astronauts were taught some geology to assist their efforts to select 'intersting' samples for return.
I do admit that we do not have the technology currently to send astronauts to explore Jupiter's moons, and return them safely. And lacking the space-race competition and paranoia of Sputnik etc, I guess robotic exploration will have to suffice until human space exploration becomes a priority.
As the space program has developed, astronauts actually have had less and less to do. The Space Shuttles could land themselves and "pilots" had little to do. Early in the US space program there were heated discussions about whether or not to include pilots on missions. The pilot "wing" of the space program won the day.
Yes, astronauts "fixed" the Hubble telescope, but I bet for the costs of sending humans to do the job and for the repair components, we could have put a better telescope in orbit.
I have to agree completely with you on this one. I have no issue with developing parallel paths; i.e. robotic systems and manned systems, etc. but we do need the decision-making capability only manned space flight can give us. I'm a bit narrow-mined though because I worked in the aerospace industry for some years during the Gemini flights. I worked on the Titan II missile. There were several occasions where missions would have been aborted had it not been for quick thinking and coordination of the ground crew with the PIC. Robots could not have assessed the situation correctly and in time to make necessary corrections and course alterations.
I think I missed my point in that wall of text sorry. The point is that human perspective is needed. So you can send your 10 robots to gain the basics and then send one human to fill in the blanks and complete the research.
And no there is no possible way with our current technology to colonize mars. However people dream and I am sure we will achieve it one day. I don't think it will be within our lifetime however amazing that SCI FI dream would be.
Oldguywithtoys I have to agree with you 100% on most aspects. However as far as academia goes we still lack funding. Physics students have difficulty getting money for school. Grants are limited and money for the lab is short. Yes the lab I worked at (I'm a physics major and a math major FYI both lacking funds) had a 0.5M USD atomic force microscope and we put it to good use doing research in 1nm technology. However I could not afford to buy a multimeter because our finance contact was an engineer and his excuse was that we have an AFM in the lab??? Last I checked we can't use a 0.5M unit as a multimeter. Physics is a very expensive field part of the reason is custom equipment. If you are looking into the unknown then you have to engineer new devices to get there. And believe it or not there is a good number of engineering inventions that were initiated by these little science projects physicists' request. Test equipment giants like HP and others worked with us closely with equipment unknown to them simply to satisfy their appetite for test techniques. They produced equipment for us at cost in some cases just to get a hand on the most cutting edge. So while some people only see the man in the moon. I see the thousands of physicists/ material scientists/ electrical engineers/ mechanical engineers/ aero engineers etc. that were involved in taking that ship there. And while many might say there was nothing to gain from that I have to say "WRONG" (picture Kevin Spacey from the last superman screaming in your face)
Of course applying it is important. I'm sure Egyptians made the same argument you are making when someone stuck a copper electrode in a lemon (no applicable use for it at the time using copper for swords and armor much better). And they stopped doing research in electricity (just hypothetical play along for a second) however recent research into this magical force has led us to become a very productive species. Similar with the Higgs knowing how the forces of the universe what's the use (as if understanding electricity and magnetism ever did anything useful for us???) since we have no immediate use of it???
Ervin, I didn't suggest cutting the budget to one tenth and sending a robot instead of a human. I'm advocating maintaning the budget, and sending 10 robots on 10 missions instead of one manned mission, and doing 10 times the research - but with less pizzaz and press interest. Bob, you claim that the ultimate goal is to colonize the planets. I don't know where you picked that one up - I'm prety sure it's not in NASA's roadmap, nor do I understand how such a goal can be justified.
A middle school team from Rochester, Mich., has again nabbed the grand prize in the annual international Future City Competition, which drew students from 37 regions of the United States, as well as from England and China.
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