Passengers are a burden

Friday, December 12, 2014

In 1957, the space age began when the Soviet Union put a satellite into orbit. Four years later, President John Kennedy announced a plan to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

American were awed and filled with pride by the prospect of reaching the moon. Some questioned the wisdom of a space program and others questioned the wisdom of including human passengers in the space program.

We achieved Kennedy's goal and we don't need to question the wisdom of that goal now. Humans have walked on the moon and that accomplishment should simply be accepted and honored.

The fact that our space program advanced technological development is beyond question. World communication, meteorology and cartography depend on equipment circling the globe. However, these advances are largely the result of the unmanned space program.

America's manned space program has had setbacks, including the loss of two space shuttles and their crews, but after a brief hiatus, the manned program resumed

Now there is discussion of a return to the moon and then a mission to Mars.

While those are inspiring goals, they would be massively expensive.

While human passengers make space flight more exciting, their function beyond what can effectively be done by machines is minimal and they require massively expensive life support systems.

It is time to eliminate human passengers from our space program.