Michael Lind is an author, a columnist for Salon.com, and a policy director at the New America Foundation. In the article “Human Spaceflight Should End,” he favors unmanned spaceflights, arguing that robot space probes have been so successful in space exploration, that human lives should not be risked (Lind, Michael). In my opinion, robot space probes are better suited for space exploration because they do not require oxygen and if the probes get destroyed, there is no emotional attachment.
With the closing of the human spaceflight program, many people would argue that this decision is a disgrace to America and its space program. However, the United States has been very successful using robots like the Mars rovers or the Phoenix lander. There has been a shift from using astronauts to using space probes due to the rapid growth in technology. An example of this technology is the Kepler Space Telescope. Using this, scientist have been able to discover more than 500 planets in a different solar system. A probe is orbiting Mercury right now, and there is another probe that is believed to go past Pluto in 2015.
There are many arguments in favor of human spaceflight. One of the arguments Lind mentions and refutes is that machines are unable to conduct scientific experiments due to their lack of intelligence. This is proved wrong by the success of robotic drones and space probes. Another argument mentioned by Lind is that life is always seeking out new places to live. This argument is refuted by the fact that animals do not leave a comfortable habitat unless they have to. Lind also refutes the argument that space exploration is necessary for avoiding extinction. If a natural “catastrophe” such as a super-volcano or supernova made the Earth’s surface inhospitable, it would be easier and much less costly to live in underground bunkers rather than colonize a nearby planet. The last argument he refutes is the myth of private investment. If the government no longer funds human spaceflight, it is very unlikely it could be funded through private or commercially organizations due to cost being greater than profit.
Lind believes that since robotic probes have been so successful, there is no longer a need for astronauts. He says “ ... Even if the public pays little attention because there are no astronauts to engage in white-knuckle landings or to clown around for the cameras.” I feel that this is very disrespectful to the astronauts, and takes away from the fact that NASA doesn’t launch just about anybody. They go through years of college, and a very rigorous training regime. The astronauts leave their families and risk everything. They are some of America’s biggest heroes, and Lind attempts to take that away from them.
“The success of robot space probes has discredited the idea that machines are too stupid to do science in space. When that argument for human spaceflight collapses, those that remain are preposterous”
I do agree with Lind on this...