Is it time to stop sending humans on scientific space missions?
Huffington Post blogger Dr. Richard Garriott de Cayeux
calls himself “the first second-generation astronaut,” and his credentials offer ample proof. A video game entrepreneur who is the son of an astronaut, Garriott bought his own ticket to the International Space Station. He’s a board member for the X-Prize Foundation and sits on the NASA Advisory Council, and he believes that robots are destined to perform the bulk of space exploration from here on.
You’ve heard the arguments before. Robots don’t require expensive life support systems. If they meet their demise, the only people who’ll mourn are their insurers. Focus on unmanned missions, on the other hand, and costs plummet. Plus, the robotic technologies developed for space exploration will create valuable spin offs here on earth.
So does Garriott believe humans will be excluded from all future space missions? Not at all. As a person that’s “investing in commercial experiments in space, I want very much to utilize the least expensive processes. When this can be done without human intervention, the costs go down greatly,” he writes. But he adds that for some things, robots still can’t match the intelligence and judgment of a human being.