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The role of NASA

Congress does not understand the REAL importance of NASA. All they can do is discuss how much they want man to go to Mars, national leadership in space, etc. But every space-oriented scientist knows that the REAL importance of NASA is the unmanned scientific missions they launch. Science and mankind have been IMMENSELY enriched by these, MUCH more so than any results from manned missions. Scientists understand that manned missions are a huge drain on the economy and learn little. I hope the OSTP will take this lesson to heart and champion unmanned missions over manned.


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  1. Comment

    America,indeed all Humankind,is desperately in need of a frontier. A place to try new things, open new businesses, plant new communities, and even as a place to go when there is no place for you. The only role mentioned in the Constitution for NASA is to "establish post offices and post roads." NASA should be building a highway to space where prospectors, miners, settlers, and, yes, tourists (not necessarily in that order) will shortly follow. I say that it is the "unmanned scientific missions" for the gratification of ivory-tower philosophers, that are a huge drain on the economy with no return in sight.

  2. Comment

    The problem with concentrating on robots is that they have a fixed suite of sensors and specific capabilities, fine for scouts. Space is so unknown and hazardous that preliminary exploration is best done by robots but once the problems are better understood, people must go. The resources and energy of the solar system await us, the generalists. Of course, really good life support is necessary and that's a big problem. Also, I expect humaniform, generalist robots with excellent AI and telepresence mentoring will be important coworkers for the "prospectors, miners, settlers, and, yes, tourists".