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Exploration of space is an expression of one of our finest aspects — curiosity.

To truly satisfy that curiosity we need to be participants, but humans are heavy, fragile, dirty, vulnerable, picky about their environment, and have a low tolerance for the space environment. (i.e., high energy radiation, extreme heat and cold, etc.)

The fragility of humans, our aversion for risking human life, and the all-too-human need for consumables (food, water and oxygen) require vast amounts of money to pay for the extra engineering and multiple redundant systems we demand to reduce risk to astronauts, as well as for the vastly larger support crews needed to babysit every aspect of daily life during a manned space mission.

In any exploration, reconnaissance dominates the earliest phases and realistically there is no choice between human and robotic exploration when it comes to travelling to any planet.

Robotic exploration is the only realistic game in town.

The International Space Station is no longer a platform for cutting-edge space science.

Unmanned probes can explore Mars and other planets more cheaply and effectively than manned missions can. Robotic space programs are a far more cost-effective means of advancing our scientific knowledge of the universe. And a moon colony would be a silly destiny.

Some scientists believe that artificial-intelligence software may enhance the capabilities of unmanned probes, but so far those capabilities fall far short of what is required for even the most rudimentary forms of field study.

Building a manned base on the moon makes even less sense.

Unmanned spacecraft can study the moon quite efficiently, as the Lunar Prospector probe has shown. It is not our destiny to build a moon colony any more than it is to walk on our hands.

Considering the current limited range of human exploration the countdown to sending humans to Mars is light years away never mind the rest of the solar system.

In 15 years’ time, will this be a photograph rather than an artist’s impression?

But robots aren’t heroes. No one throws a ticker-tape parade for a telescope.

A program of purely robotic exploration is inadequate in addressing the important scientific issues that make the planets worthy of detailed study.

But is the physical presence of people really required?

Telepresence—the remote projection of human abilities into a machine—may permit field study on other planets without the danger and logistical problems associated with human spaceflight.


HUMAN SPACELIGHT is extremely expensive. A single flight of the space shuttle costs about $450 million. Even the most optimistic experts estimate that sending astronauts to the Red Planet would cost tens of billions of dollars. Other estimates run as high as $1 trillion.

NASA LIKE HOLLOWOOD has learned a valuable lesson about marketing in the 21st century: to promote its programs, it must provide entertaining visuals and stories with compelling human characters.

Vision is the most important sense used in a field study, and no real-time imaging system developed to date can match human vision, the technology is not yet available.

Robots will never be replacements for people. Robotic spacecraft still need human direction, of course, if explorers Lewis and Clark were alive today, they would be sitting behind a computer screen.

All exploration whether Robotic or otherwise will be worthless if we have an Earth that is void of people.

All human comments appreciated. All like clicks chucked in the bin.