Manned vs unmanned space flights

From today's NY Times Letters to the Editor:

Re "The Rush to Resume Shuttle Flights" (editorial, Sept. 9):

You support manned space flights. Why? There's simply no evidence that manned spaceflight will do anything to contribute to our understanding of planets outside our own.

In fact, almost every single advance in our understanding of the cosmos has come from unmanned space flights and space probes.

We do not doubt the value of using cameras, computers and other machines to further the pursuit of science here on earth. Just look, for example, at our use of arthroscopic surgery.

So why do we waste billions of dollars sending humans into space, where all they do is add weight and risk to space flights?

New York, Sept. 9, 2003

With all due respect to Mr. Rosenthal, the decision should not be a collective one. Notice the frequent use of the word "we" in the letter. Different people value space exploration for different reasons. Mr. Rosenthal appears to value space exploration for the understanding of the universe it provides. And thus he wishes to relegate space exploration to space probes and satellites.

Yet, many others value space exploration for different reasons. Some wish to see mankind push the limit of human ingenuity. Some wish to find minerals which are scarce on Earth. Some wish to use space as a manufacturing site. Some see space as the hope for a new frontier away from tyranny.

This is not a collective decision. People see a public policy issue here because of the existence of NASA, which is funded by coercive taxation, when in fact, none exists. The question of manned vs. unmanned is a question that endures only due to the fact the government is doing something it has no business doing. Let individuals pursue their own ends, and voila! That question, and many other difficult questions which are asked only because of collective funding magically disappear.

As is common, the 'dilemma' only exists because of improperly framing the issue.

Share this

my $0.02 having worked for

my $0.02 having worked for NASA straight out of college and specifically working on the Space Shuttle Payload Interface Facility. In general I think Manned space flight is a waste of time and money. Most of what is done by astronauts can be done better, safer, cheaper by robots and rockets.

When at NASA, it was clear to me that Manned space flight was nothing more than a way for NASA to win the hearts of the public and maintain their funding. Unfortunately, tragic events have done quite the opposite.

But but... without NASA you

But but... without NASA you would have anarchy! Companies providing services for profit -- it would be mob rule I tell ya!

I think Manned spaceflight

I think Manned spaceflight will always rule over unmanned. Not for any scientific reasons but for the pure thirst man has for knowldege and going places where we haven't been before. Did columbus send a boat floating across the altlantic first to discover the new world or did he go himself. Man will always want to experience things firsthand not by watching a tv screen. All our senses have to be satisfied including feeling and smelling. Man will continue on spaceflight not for any scientific reason but meerly to get the thrill of going where no one has gone before.

While I agree that manned

While I agree that manned space flight is in fact necessary for hands-on scientific advancement, I do believe the idea that Columbus went out and discovered North America because he didn't want to just send a ship out there. I understand what you're getting at, but that argument wouldn't make sense because the people of that time didn't have the technology. Why is manned space flight necessary? I'm wondering what you all have to say about this.

People are always

People are always questioning why we are still sending manned missions to space. They argue that it is a big waste of time and money. True, it is very expensive. What good has come out of the manned missions in the last twenty years? Many people would say nothing or mockingly say a new type of bed. They are the type of people who only get excited at climaxes. And once it's all over they lose interest. How's that for a supportive public. Many things can be attributed to manned space flight alone: things like Velcro, calculators, computers, great advancements in meteorology, geography, medicine, and more. And I believe there is more to be discovered and that is why we need to continue with manned spaceflight. People need to look into things more to fully understand them before they start to criticize. In order to continue to make technological advancements we need to keep space flight. And in order to take as much advantage of what we have before us, we need to continue to combine manned spaceflight and unmanned spaceflight. Together we can stretch further than we ever have before...and who knows what we'll discover next.

NASA should continue manned

NASA should continue manned space flights because we can't really rely on machines to do certain things. Also they probly cost alot as well. The humans that go into space know what the risks are, so we can't be held responsible. There is never going to be a perfect flying vehicle, and that just can't be helped.

Nasa should continue manned

Nasa should continue manned space flights. We have for so many years now why stop. They now what there doing, so let them make there own choices. To somepeople it is their dream to go into space, and what right do we have to stop them from achiving that dream. Mabey we souldn't go up there for scientifice reasons, just for the thrill

For now, it is not worth to

For now, it is not worth to get the risk of losing much money and maybe the lives. The wish of people whose ideas are in favour of manned space flights is only a dream for now. Human being can make a manned space flight to Mars 30 or 40 years later easily with their advanced technology. Thus, for the time being, the only thing that should be done is to reach that technology as early as possible...

Probes make wonderful

Probes make wonderful exploratory craft, especially when they are not needed to make field decisions. Exploratory satellites and landers that moniter from a fixed location have been and should be unmanned. But when dealing with complex probes that go any further than the moon, the lag in response time by the message sent from Earth to the craft carrying out the command causes a probe to become more difficult to control from Earth. In fact it takes about 10 minutes to tell if a single maneuver is correctly executed by a Mars based probe. I feel that a combination of unmanned scouts followed by manned exploration craft is the correct path to follow.

Please send me information

Please send me information on Unmanned and manned space flights urgently. I need this for my daughter project. Please send by tomorrow

I belive we should continue

I belive we should continue manned space flights because you know your taking a risk being apart of the NASA crew, if you dont want to be a part of it don't join.They take the jobs because they want to explore new things and im not against that. NASA needs more money, Bush gave NASA a three percent raise and there asking for more money. Don't you think if they had more money they could make better shuttles?

i agree that NASA should

i agree that NASA should continue manned flights so that everything that is needed to be done will get done but with the fear that we will lose more people than before.

While I am by no means an

While I am by no means an expert on space travel, I am a human being, and that's what space travel is all about. True there is money to be made in space, but these probes that are now sitting on mars are not there to set up factories or dump garbage. They are there to explore. Exploration is a fundamental human trait, something that defines us. While unmanned missions tell us what is out there, they do not return to earth to give us something to celebrate. It is our adventerous spirit that is the reason any space agency in the world exists. Ultimately, we will continue manned missions into space wether or not it is the most cost effective route.

Obviously manned and

Obviously manned and unmanned are dangerous and expensive, but what do we do if we have the necessity to satiate our curiosity about the space? we have to take some risks...

what are names of the most

what are names of the most manned spacecrafts

Im sorry but I have to state

Im sorry but I have to state the obvious, and that is that manned space exploration will NEVER cease to exist. For all of you who ask "Why is it necessary anymore?" Well it has nothing to do with necessity. I have complete faith that a machine could go out and explore just as well or better than a man, but guess what? That doesn't matter. Im telling you this debate shouldn't even be taking place because manned space exploration will go on. It would be like trying to erase a part of our existence, a part that is written into the heart of humans. In all reality nothing can stop manned space exploration from happening, so why try?

I think it would be good to

I think it would be good to keep sending manned flights into space.I admit that the price is a big sum of money,way too much for anyone but why would you not want to. you would be missing out of the wonders of space God has made.i personally think we should send robots just until nasa finds better technology for flights to distant places .the machines should explore the moon mor or mars more until we can send humans to far places .

I support the Manned Space

I support the Manned Space Missions!!!!

I think Manned space flight

I think Manned space flight is a goverments way of wasting money

but unmanned space flight is exspencive 2

Can you tell me wether Nasa

Can you tell me wether Nasa should continue manned space flights

I agree!!!!!!!

I agree!!!!!!!

I am completely in support

I am completely in support of manned space flight. In the late 1800s there was great risk in manned aerial flight. The technology wasn't safe or glorious, but two men eventually built a crude plane and flew it and now it is routine and almost everyone will fly somewhere in their lifetime. Air travel still has risks, but has improved our world tremendously. Space travel carries the same potential for us all as we continue to explore better and safer technologies for human space flight. I think it should be NASA's top priority until technologies are created that are cheaper and safer than the shuttle. Nothing else should matter right now. Man will explore space deeper and deeper in the upcoming centuries. It's just about continuing scientific and technological development. The more we explore of our universe the more we will understand the vastness of God's creation and what he has made for us.

Guys no offense but this is

Guys no offense but this is really stupid, honestly they shouldn't send anymore people up there because look at all the accidents that are occuring, remember what happened in february last year?Doesn't anymore care about that?I'm sure y'all do but come on, it's interesting to know what's up there but just think,they can be using all that money on the hospitals because that's something we really need, not sending people up there, there's a lot to learn but we don't really need to know about it.Think of all the kids that are suffering out there of diseases and it's like they are ignoring them and using up the money on something when it's not as important, if you have any comments about this just email me back please!I wanna know what you have to say!

i dont think they should

i dont think they should continue with manned space flights any more, and i think columbia was an omen telling us to stop manned space flights

i dont think they should

i dont think they should continue with manned space flights any more, and i think columbia was an omen telling us to stop manned space flights

I need information on why we

I need information on why we shouldnt send man into space! I NEED IT BY TOMORROW!

Why is manned space travel

Why is manned space travel better?

Mietra stinks

Mietra stinks

It all comes down to the

It all comes down to the values each society has. For Americans to give up manned space flight is like asking them to give up their cars. It will never happen.
We enjoy the freedom and ability to do what we want, when we want. It's been a part of this country's history from week one.
Unmanned space exploration might be safer and more cost effective than manned space flight, but there's "no way on earth" (pardon the pun) that we would trust machines to do as thurough a job as an actual human being.
Besides, who would come back and write the newest exciting books on space exploration? We want adventure stories. That's a human trait not just an american one.

I am doing a science project

I am doing a science project on Nasa's use of unmanned space probes, and i am having toe WORST time finding information! Dou you know of any websites that can help me?