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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Nov 23, 2005 18:50:43 GMT -6
Manned vs. Unmanned Space Exploration
Shuttle trips to low earth orbit not withstanding; the human race has stopped reaching for the stars – with manned missions, of course. Now, the new explorers are robots. Will they be the ultimate space traveler? Or will man, with all faults and flexibility, take back this role?
Unmanned Missions – going where no man has gone before - and maybe never will.
Robotic space exploration has become the heavy lifter for serious space science. While shuttle launches and the International Space Station get all the media coverage, these small, relatively inexpensive unmanned missions are doing important science in the background.
Most scientists agree: both the shuttle (STS – Space Transport System) and the International Space Station are expensive and unproductive means to do space science.
NASA has long touted the space station as the perfect platform to study space and the shuttle a perfect vehicle to build it. However, as early as 1990, 13 different science groups rejected the space station citing huge expenses for small gains.