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Benefits: Advantages of Having Man in Space
By J. David Baxter
America and the world have experienced both success and tragedy in the manned exploration of space. In making plans for the future of manned spaceflight, it is necessary to take the proper perspective.
The benefits of manned spaceflight are worth the risks. Technology developed in the manned space program is saving thousands of lives in the nation's hospitals. The production of new medicines, which can only be made in the space environment, will also, in time, save or prolong many lives.
Manned spaceflight activity contributes to the strength of the nation's economy, and provides new frontiers for the mind and spirit of those who closely follow astronaut activities.
The exploration of new frontiers has traditionally brought great risks as well as great rewards. It takes courage to explore the unknown, and courage is a virtue that our nation should stand by.
The astronauts, who have given their lives for their country, and their surviving families, want continued manned space exploration to push back the frontiers of knowledge and discovery. We must continue progress in manned spaceflight, so those who have given their lives will not have died in vain.
There are definite advantages of having astronauts in space over having unmanned machines alone in space exploration. Astronauts can make on-the-spot value judgments to determine the most effective ideas for exploration. This same advanced intuitive will lead to unforeseen breakthroughs, on the Moon and Mars, as well as the space based zero G laboratory.
History provides a wonderful lesson on the value of human innovation. In 1928, Alexander Fleming found some mold contaminating a culture of laboratory bacteria. He could have cleaned the laboratory dish, and started over. But instead, he studied the mold. He had accidentally discovered the antibiotic, penicillin. After further research, penicillin was used to fight diseases.
An astronaut can weigh relative values, reacting intelligently to the unexpected. An astronaut can provide innovative technical skills in the maintenance of equipment. Machines can only do what they are programmed to do, while lacking in innovation. Manned space exploration has provided more selective, higher quality information than unmanned space probes.
Unmanned space probes maintained by astronauts, can operate continuously in looking for items of interest to researchers. Operating unmanned machines from Earth also means potential problems from the speed of light lag time. With extended manned space exploration activity, and reduced space transportation costs, the scientific community will receive far greater return on investment, than they would be possible with a purely unmanned program.
Manned spaceflight activity is something that the public can share in, with the astronauts. The astronauts are personalities that the public can related to. In most cases they are good role models for the youth. In this day and age, the youth badly need heroes to look up to. This can inspire higher achievement from the youth as they progress through school and college. It will be possible in the future, to develop spacecraft that can take off like jet aircraft, use oxygen directly from the atmosphere, be fully reusable and perform ten times better than a rocket. Imagine an average citizen being able to take a suborbital flight from New York City to Tokyo.
Manned space exploration also opens up doors for international cooperation in space, with its related camaraderie. It can be a way to turn aerospace industry swords into plowshares.