Wednesday, September 30, 2009
This is an interesting essay on manned space flight. It takes a cold view of sending men back to the moon and calls for more unmanned missions. It is good to remember that the original manned space flights to the moon were a giant PR exercise meant to beat the Russians in space exploration. The Russians at the time President Kennedy made his speech about going to the moon were still in the lead -- but not for much longer. The original moon missions were probably the largest and most expensive PR programs ever undertaken in human history. They did pay for themselves in a roundabout way through new technologies that made their way to the market, but it is questionable whether going back into space for manned flights would yield similar advancement. Time has shown that robotic missions can do the job well enough.