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interalex's avatar

Are manned missions necessary and feasible to other planets and exo-planets?

Asked by interalex (130 points ) November 20th, 2010

Is it required to endanger humans to explore other planets and especially later exoplanets?
Is it more expensive in time, money and labor to create environment and tools in spaceships suitable for living creatures/human beings, than creating robots instead?
Is it not time consuming to prepare men for such missions for their living and working on the surface of a planet?
Is it not more cost effective and faster to avoid creating such factors, but creating travel and purpose/target means instead?

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14 Answers

LostInParadise's avatar

I asked a similar question specifically about the planned mission to Mars. The Mars rovers were spectacularly successful, exceeding all expectations. I don’t see why we can’t do more of the same. A manned trip to Mars presents some interesting problems. There was no shower facility on the Moon flights. That won’t work for the duration of a Mars flight. How is that going to be taken care of? Also, what to do with body excretions becomes kind of tricky. Robots do not have any of these difficulties, nor do they need to be fed, require oxygen or comfortable temperatures. It makes so much more sense to use them instead of humans.

ragingloli's avatar

Yes they are. Sooner or later, humanity will want to colonise other planets, completely relocate to another planet because you fucked this one up, or commence large mining operations on other planets, planetoids and asteroids. Having people there gives one greater flexibility when trying to solve technical problems.
And when you want to colonise other planets, it would be quite an advantage to know the physical and psychological effects such an endeavour has on humans and to have experiences with the logistics and economics of sustaining a colony on another planet.
In the long run, it is unavoidable.

marinelife's avatar

I think they are necessary. I think they are the only way to handle unexpected situations. I think you get back more data than you do from unmanned missions.

DrBill's avatar

It is. Robots may be cheaper and have logic and research abilities, but the don’t have the ability to think in the abstract or to make decisions about anything not in their programming code.

jaytkay's avatar

Welcome to Fluther @interalex!

Yes, it’s immensely more expensive, I think we can learn a lot more with unmanned craft simply because we can afford a lot more missions.Mars Pathfinder was done for $150 million in three years! A lot of movies cost more to make!

roundsquare's avatar

@ragingloli ”...because you fucked this one up…” (emphasis added). Are you not one of us?

@interalex Your points make a good argument for sending robots first. Send them there, let them gather data and send it back and then decided if we want to send a manned mission.

ETpro's avatar

@interalex Welcome to Fluther. Great question. My answer is yes and yes. But your points about robotic exploration are certainly well taken. Robots would always go first, establishing the surface conditions so that if and when we do send a manned mission, we know what is needed to keep humans safe and provide for their survival during the mission. For much of what we will explore in the solar system, robots may serve all our needs, even should mining of resources be on the menu,

But @ragingloli & @marinelife are right. To ensure the long-term survival of humanity, we should set our sights on eventually colonizing areas beyond Earth. The sun will turn into a red giant and incinerate the Earth in 10 billion years or so. But far before that, we could face runaway warming; a massive collision with an asteroid, comet or extra-solar object; a deadly world-wide epidemic; or who knows what else. Since we are now able to think in these terms, and are approaching the technology needed, we should take steps to ensure the human race is able to outlive the habitable Earth.

mattbrowne's avatar

As always, I send human embryos.

Nullo's avatar

There are people on this rock right now who would gleefully stuff themselves in an oil drum for a week if they thought that it would get them to the Moon. Between that kind of willingness to accept risk, and the fact that overall, space travel is fairly safe, we don’t need to worry about the “endangering human lives” part so much. Colonization would be a gamble, but the rewards – living room, more resources – might well be worth it.
I really don’t see the need for it to be either/or; the most effective team would have both humans and robots.

@LostInParadise There’s always the sponge bath.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

Obama shut down all manned missions.

So manned missions must then be a bad idea.

He has made a decision. How DARE we question it?

Grew up with dreams of leading humankind into the cosmos? Fuck you.

mattbrowne's avatar

Your conclusion is wrong. They are only a bad idea right now because of the aftermath of the finacial crisis.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

But a seachange like socialized healthcare is a GOOD idea??

ragingloli's avatar

what socialised healthcare?

ETpro's avatar

@Crashsequence2012 It would be, because it is considerably less costly than our healthcare system, which cost the most per capita as a percentage of GDP of any in the world, and is rated at the bottom of the developed world in outcomes. But we do not have socialized healthcare.

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