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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 16, 2004 1:42 PM. The previous post in this blog was 21st Century birthday. The next post in this blog is Famous for another 15 minutes. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, January 16, 2004

Let's not and say we did

So George the Rocket Scientist wants to start throwing billions at putting humans on Mars, and establishing a colony on the moon.

On the moon, I'm sure it will be either a penal colony or a military base. And then Chief Justice Thomas, who'll still be around, can tell us whether the Constitution applies in space. ("It doesn't specifically say so in the document, so the answer is no.")

You know, the whole idea of "manned" space flight makes no sense any more. With computer technology and robotics, we can do all the space exploration we really need to do with no humans getting any higher than Courtney Love. It's a lot cheaper, and a lot safer, that way. I'm tired of watching us throw our money away putting astronauts into space, then shed our Presidential crocodile tears when we can't get them up or down through the 100,000-foot level in one piece.

Sending humans into space when robots would do is just a bunch of macho cowboy posturing from Texas and Florida. It's like having someone stand out in sub-zero temperatures to make ice cubes when you've got an ice maker in your freezer. History will laugh at how foolish it has become.

And don't tell me we really need to know what years in space will do to a human body. Let's spend that money to figure out how to stop cancer cells from spreading without killing the patient. We can do that on the ground. On this planet.

Comments (10)

He's a space cowboy. Bet you weren't ready for that.

Apologies to Steve Miller.

Some people call him Maurice...

Speaking as someone who will work in the cancer-curing field, I think we're doing just fine in the money department. People will always pay for health-related science, but true economic progress will come from investing in ideas that seem ridiculous at the time.

Space science is terribly important as a driver for engineering, information science, materials science and nanotechnology, all sciences of the future. I hate to throw this saw out there, but 'what good is a newborn baby?'

I'm not against spending money on space exploration. But is the extra money needed for physical human presence in space worth it? I think not.

Right on, Jack. Eradication of hunger and poverty, not space, is the final frontier. Despite Trekkies' most fervent wishes, space is too damn dangerous for humans to migrate there.

The eradication of hunger and poverty is much more a political problem than a scientific one.
Space, however, is a science problem.

Is the extra money worth it sending humans? Yeah, I think it is. Most of that money will go towards research into science and engineering that will have benefits that we can't possibly begin to imagine. (Imagine the innovations in materials science that will come from trying to make space safer for humans?)

The economy of our new time will depend on us funding the research that gets us there. Any money we can throw at that is money well-spent.

"Scientific" and "political" are just two labels for the multitude of problems at which the government throws money. I agree with Martin Luther King that the government should spend more on eradicating hunger and poverty for the masses, which is possible and would directly benefit millions, than it does on sending an elite few into outer space, the success of which is speculative and benefits of which are indirect. The U.S. could pay every American a living wage and buy him/her health insurance with all the money it's planning to spend on space colonies. It would be cheaper and safer, but just as pointless, to try to urbanize Antarctica and the ocean as to settle Mars and the moon. ;)

And yet, none of the countries who *aren't* sending space missions (whether manned or machine) have solved all these problems.

It's not a zero sum game, and it's just barely possible that the answers to the questions will come from space exploration rather than direct investment.

We have the ISS to study the effects of space flights on humans and already know that there are a number of major problems to overcome before we go any further.

Let's figure out how to solve the problems we know about, and then go on to the next stage.

The robots are enabling us to enlarge our list of problems and possible solutions, but if they don't show us some obvious solution to one of the major problems, like the fuel for a return trip, what's the point in going?

We need a replacement for the shuttle, new instruments to study the universe, some way of cleaning up the near-earth junk, effective shields for solar flares, etc.

There is a lot we need to know before blowing a lot of money on a photo op.

Who should be the next person sent into space ?
A) Roger Clemens
B) Paul Begala
C) Michael Bolton
D) Clay Aiken
E) Teddy Kennedy
F) Al Franken


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