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Another rocket failure. People in space? Worth it?

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  • Another rocket failure. People in space? Worth it?

    Elon Musk's Falcon X blew up this morning. I feel this one is almost Karma, having watched videos of him bragging about how no accidents, and ripping into the Antares rocket which blew up (it uses Russian Engines unlike Falcon X).

    We have also seen Branson's project fail (more sad due to the death of pilot).

    Now in fairness the Russian rockets have been surprisingly reliable (although an unmanned one of those failed recently as well). But even so, why are we sending, or trying to send, people into space when the technology clearly isn't proven to be safe? What's the advantage versus sending robots? Yeah I get the "we want to conquer the universe and explore strange worlds" thing, but doesn't it makes sense not to use people until we can do it safely? I'm guessing robots are a lot cheaper too (no living quarters, oxygen, etc).

    What do you think? Is this game, now increasingly a play thing of billionaires instead of governments, worth it? What good has come of the billions spent on the international space station?
    Last edited by moahunter; 28-06-2015, 10:51 AM.

  • #2
    Simple answer.

    “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”




    • #3
      ^yeah, but there is no Cold War now, and intercontinental ballistic missile technology is fully developed (this is where the shuttle solid fuel booster tech came from for example, minuteman missiles).

      I think one day, sure, but we could achieve a lot more with robotics right now. The only positive from the ISS so far is a cute rendition of space oddity.


      • #4
        It isn't about safety. The people who have died in manned spaceflight mishaps were all fully aware of the risks and willingly accepted them. The first people to venture out on the oceans or take to the skies faced similar risks, and ultimately there were huge returns for later generations. There is certainly a financial argument in favor of suspending manned space flight, as the science return per dollar invested is far higher for robotic missions than for any manned mission. However, there is also value in a successful stunt that involves "going where no one has gone before", like the Apollo missions to the moon or proposed missions to Mars. It is just unclear if it is worth the price.


        • #5
          How many ships sank crossing the Atlantic? How many died?


          • #6



            • #7


              • #8
                ^why people though, as opposed to robots? Even if we want to Terraform mars or similar, why wouldn't we do it with robots first? Sticking people in a tin can above the earth, IMO, is a very poor return for the billions invested (more than $100 billion for the ISS). Sure there was a nice psychological boost re getting some people to the moon in 1969, which generated some nice technology. But getting robots to work better on mars or venus is going to generate some pretty cool technology as well, more interesting than anything the ISS achieves. It seems to me we are spending a ton of money cargo ferrying basic supplies up to keep some people in space, I don't see great scientific acheivment in that, whereas if we spent $100 billion on space robots, I'd imagine the results would be very interesting.
                Last edited by moahunter; 29-06-2015, 11:04 AM.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by kkozoriz View Post
                  How many ships sank crossing the Atlantic? How many died?
                  With or without the hurricane tally?

                  Answer: Lots.
                  Time spent in the Rockies is never deducted from the rest of your life


                  • #10

                    I find this argument questionable. You could throw the money at almost anything and it would create the same or better in economic returns and new technologies.

                    Considering how unlikely it is that the space program will lead to colonization qof space in any meaningful way in our lifetimes, the only justifiable reason I can think of supporting a space program is because WE CAN. And I'm ok with that.

                    As a society, we spend money on sports programs so athletes can shave tenths and even hundredths of seconds off their best times. We spend money on university research where professors and students study esoteric and sometimes extremely narrow fields of study, with very little chance of a direct payout to taxpayers and wider society.

                    All the same, it makes us culturally richer and expands our horizons. It inspires us and gives us dreams. And one thing is certain, if we don't spend the money on the space program, we'll NEVER know what possibilities are out there.
                    Last edited by Snake Eyes; 30-06-2015, 05:37 AM.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by moahunter View Post
                      ^why people though, as opposed to robots?

                      As far as I know, the bulk of space research is done using robots. However, there's a need to still have people in Space so there is a face to the program. Otherwise, who will advocate for it? Look at what Chris Hadfield has done for awareness of Canada's involvement.


                      • #12
                        Many planes crashed over the years does not mean we all failed but move on and airplane is still ssfe to travel. Same goes for rockets as people does not give up and start trying hard to success with it
                        Edmonton Rocks Rocks Rocks