Space Robotics

Horizons of the Human Soul

Posted 23 Feb 2003 at 05:41 UTC by steve Share This

The debate over robot vs. human space exploration continues in the media. Denver Post columnist Sue O'Brien gives her thoughts on the issue in her latest column. She throws in a couple of Heinlein quotes along the way.

i'm all for the robots going, for now..., posted 24 Feb 2003 at 17:20 UTC by ObsoleteSuperMan » (Observer)

i thinks it's great we're using robots for deep space travel rather than humans. we need to know everything we can about mars and deep space before going out there and risking human lifes. i'm really excited about the new rovers they are sending to mars. hopefully one day we will be ready to send man kind to mars, or maybe further.

Have we really tried robotics in LEO?, posted 24 Feb 2003 at 22:16 UTC by upper » (Observer)

Take two common justificiations for manned spaceflight, and I see a place for a robotics program. One justification is that spinoffs from manned spaceflight justify it's huge costs. Spinoffs are important -- but which spinoffs are from manned spaceflight and which are from unmanned? The other is that robots can't do what human astronauts do, such as Hubble telescope maintenance and flexibly running experiments.

This is true to an extent, but robots could do far more than we've asked them to. Unmanned exploration has shown that humans on the ground can use robots flexibly by tele-operation and reprogramming. It's a much slower way to work than using humans -- a human on mars probably could have done more in an hour than sojourner did in a month. But astronaut time is so incredibly scarce and expensive that robots could hardly fail to be cheaper at any task they can do. And they can do things humans can't, at least with current equipment, like sitting and waiting for a month while people figure out what to do, or repairing satellites in geostationary orbit.

I suggest that we push robotics and tele-op for LEO much harder than we have. We have a lot to figure out, but the way to learn is by trying it. And that means increasing capability and more spinoffs. (I don't oppose manned spaceflight, but I think it should focus on the things we need to learn for long-term human habitation.

I'm only human, posted 27 Feb 2003 at 02:04 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

Probably a big reason a human trip to Mars won't happen anytime soon is because of the high probability of a critial human organ failure. Apparently, the likelyhood of a crew of 4 traveling months both to and from Mars would be very likely for a major organ to malfunction. Robots either don't have such a high failure rate, or are not as precious as human life.

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