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NASA, ISS partners quietly completing design of possible Moon-orbiting space station
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(03-10-2017, 09:38 PM)QwertyYerty Wrote: Its better than having no manned deep space program at all.

At issue is the proper role of humans in space. The only MacGuffinite in space atm is knowledge; science is best done by robotic probes, more so now than in the past simply due to the increase in their technological capabilities over the past six decades. There is little that requires a human presence in space that cannot be done at far less expense and far more efficiency by automation. Space medicine is an area that requires a human presence in space, but only because the effects of being in space upon the human body is the subject under investigation. Space tourism is another, though the need for humans in space (other than the tourists themselves) is questionable at best, since automated systems are much better suited to the task. Even if you were to extend the definition of space tourism to include human excursions to other celestial bodies (a' la the Apollo Program of the 1960s), the primary drivers would be entertainment for non-tourists (which might, in itself, be useful for the task of garnering additional resources for "real" space exploration) and for discovering what the medical effects of traveling to and walking about on the surface of those "unearthly" places might be.

But what about other, non-scientific activities, such as asteroid mining and extracting other resources from beyond the home world? Again, automation is the less expensive, more efficient, and less risky means to accomplishing those ends. Automated miners do not require life support, sleep, or communications with loved ones back home, nor do they require rotation back to Earth in order to rest and be able to spend their back pay (assuming, of course, that human miners would not be slave labor, and/or that the Powers-That-Be were not following the Auschwitz model of industrial management).

Extended to the OA future of Y11k, humans and other bionts become, in essence, cosmic consumers, ordering such resources and information as they may need/desire, and having it delivered to them via some far-future automated descendant of Amazon or some other online shopping service. If a visit to System X is what is desired, an OA biont can simply order up the appropriate virch and save emself the time and trouble of having to physically travel there (non-corporeal sophonts, which constitute the vast majority of the population, can simply change their data input channels to achieve the same result). The only entities that actually need to go to System X are automated probes collecting data for the expanding library of virtual environments.

In short, unless it is determined that there is some real need to have a human presence in space, one that cannot be fulfilled at least as well by an appropriately-equipped automated system, there is no logical rationale (IMO) for a human presence in space, excepting those mentioned above.

Radtech497
"I'd much rather see you on my side, than scattered into... atoms." Ming the Merciless, Ruler of the Universe
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RE: NASA, ISS partners quietly completing design of possible Moon-orbiting space station - by radtech497 - 03-11-2017, 07:20 AM

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