Space Robotics

Robots, Humans, or both in Space?

Posted 4 Feb 2003 at 14:48 UTC by steve Share This

The arguments against manned space travel crop up periodically, particularly after a disaster such as Columbia or Challenger. Lots of editorials these days are calling to stop space exploration altogether or limit it to robots only. But isn't the whole point of space exploration the eventual colonization of space by humans? An article on Tech Central Station outlines robot missions, manned missions, and other possible choices. Human vs robot exploration is also explored in an article from the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.

Man of Steel, posted 4 Feb 2003 at 21:53 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

I think we should place astronauts and all earth people into indestructible suits. Then we could do away with osha and save lots of money. For that matter, we should outlaw, football, skydiving, guns, meat processing plants and malted milk balls.

Pigs in space, posted 5 Feb 2003 at 22:59 UTC by motters » (Master)

Editorials calling for a halt to manned space flight are just a typical knee-jerk reaction by the media, and should not be taken seriously.

The future of space exploration will probably continue in much the same way as it has over the last 40 years, with a combination of both robots and manned missions. As much in favour of robots as I am, human explorers are still far better at making rational judgements and adapting to changing contingencies than robots are and this is likely to remain the case for the forseeable future. Nasa people still describe humans as "the ultimate sensor platform".

With present technology robots can be designed to carry out specific experiments under predefined conditions, but this is not always the best (nor the most economical) way to do science. A classic example is the Viking mars landers from the 1970s. They were equipped with a number of experiments designed to determine whether the martian soil contained living organisms, but the results obtained were rather inconclusive. A human with a microscope would have resolved the issue in a short space of time.

I'd like to see robots used to build habitable environments - such as space stations and biospheres - ready for later occupation by human astronauts.

What about telepresence?, posted 11 Feb 2003 at 21:13 UTC by Pontifier » (Apprentice)

As humanoid robots are becoming popular, i am wondering when honda will make a telepresence suit one could wear to control the robot directly.

I have seen some video of a nasa upper torso that was designed to mimic a slave system on earth, with the goal of allowing somebody on earth to work in space... the robot would stay up there launched once, the shifts nown here could rotate, and no life support would be needed. I think we will see this in action soon.

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