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Van Allen Questions Human Spaceflight

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the because-it's-there dept.

Space 1096

An anonymous reader writes "James van Allen - the discoverer of the Van Allen radiation belt - has called into question the motivations and expectations of space exploration and research, particularly manned space exploration. Van Allen comments that 'the only surviving motivation for continuing human spaceflight is the ideology of adventure.'"

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micheal simms should be fired (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813607)


well, if he thinks so... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813616)

Re:well, if he thinks so... (1)

MarsDefenseMinister (738128) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813665)

A "waste" of something is when you're not using it for anything. Wasting a computer is when you have a computer, but you don't use it. If you don't have a computer, you can't waste it. If you have a computer and use it, you're not wasting it.

Similarly, putting something in a space is using that space. We have the space, and that space is being used. Therefore, the space is not wasted.

On a similar but unrelated subject, it's viruses, not virii.

adventure (5, Insightful)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813618)

Van Allen comments that 'the only surviving motivation for continuing human spaceflight is the ideology of adventure.'

Good enough for me.

Re:adventure (5, Insightful)

Roadkills-R-Us (122219) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813778)

First, let's ask what role adventure plays in life? For many of us, it's important. For some, it's crucial. Without adventure, for many people, what's the point? Would Van Allen really prefer a nation of couch potatoes?

But eth final sentence really got me.

"Let us not obfuscate the issue with false analogies to Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, and Lewis and Clark, or with visions of establishing a pleasant tourist resort on the planet Mars," van Allen suggests.

Why on earth would these be considered obfuscations? Especially the explorers! You can learn a lot via robot, but there are some things you just won't learn that way. Especially if we run across any form of life much more advanced than a simple, single-cell form.

With all due respect, perhaps Mr. Van Allen is simply getting too old. Typically, age brings less concern for adventure and more concern for safety and.... dare I say it? things not changing. I'm not saying this is all that's at work behind his arguments, but I suspect it is a factor.

yes, with age also comes (hopefully) wisdom. But with age we can also have ossification. The best results usually arrive when we have a balance of maturity, wisdom and caution with adventuresomeness, exhuberance and boldness.

Re:adventure (3, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813782)

Me too.

OTOH, he did leave out a lot of (very) long-term reasons, most of which have a whole lot to do with humanity surviving beyond whatever Fate has laid out for the planet we're grubbing around on now...

Re:adventure (2, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813793)

Agreed. I mean, one could equally say "The only surviving motivation for continuing unmanned space probes is the ideology of expanded knowledge of the cosmos". Knowing, say, the chemical that is making Phoebe so dark isn't going to cure cancer or end war - but we do it because we as a species want to learn.

Likewise, we as a species like to push the boundaries of our physical existance - and for now, that comes as an attempt to rage against the bonds of our planet's gravity.

And I think its a good thing. Besides, it won't *always* be just for adventure.

don't forget (-1, Offtopic)

LaimGod (757950) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813620)

that and profit

FP

no fp for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813644)

Wrong again. Liberal media

Don't understand (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813621)

'the only surviving motivation for continuing human spaceflight is the ideology of adventure.'"

And this is a problem because....?

Re:Don't understand (1, Troll)

hak hak (640274) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813815)

Because many people (including apparently Van Allen, and I'm inclined to view myself as standing on the same side) doubt whether being adventurous is worth billions of dollars and the risk of human lives. As Van Allen says in the article, comparing human space flight with the journeys of Columbus is not entirely fair; Columbus could be fairly sure to encounter habitable land (in fact, he wanted to reach Japan and China; contrary to a popular myth, the idea that the earth was round was reasonably well spread in his time). The only prospect we have (at least until Zephram Cochrane appears) is to establish a manned base on Mars. I'm wondering if that's a very good prospect in view of the lack of success of the ISS.

The majority of Slashdotters (including myself) seems to find the billions the Bush administration is pouring into Iraq a terrible waste of money. According to Van Allen, the ISS will have cost 80 billion dollars when it is completed, but I doubt it will benefit humanity any more than even the tiny positive aspect of the Iraq war.

Because (4, Insightful)

Froze (398171) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813628)

Keeping all your eggs in one basket is a strategy for failure.

Re:Because (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813703)

though, what does this have to do doing manned spaceflight _now_, when more could be learned about space with unmanned flights.

it could easily be argued by using a cheap analogy that doing manned spaceflight now is joggling with eggs when you could learn more about them and hatch them..

(going to space is cheaper and cheaper by the year as tech advances regardless of the space effort)

Re:Because (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813736)

Keeping all your eggs in one basket is a strategy for failure.

Right, and without challenge there is stagnation. If the choice is looking at the stars or staring at my feet, I know which one I'd choose.

Re:Because (1)

Karzz1 (306015) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813737)

Keeping all your eggs in one basket is a strategy for failure.

Exactly. What about that inevitable day when earth is destroyed (no it may not be in our lifetimes, but it will happen... even if we just happen to wait long enough for the sun to burn out). I think this is simply a natural progression of evolution.

Re:Because (1)

Opie812 (582663) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813821)

Exactly. What about that inevitable day when earth is destroyed (no it may not be in our lifetimes, but it will happen... even if we just happen to wait long enough for the sun to burn out). I think this is simply a natural progression of evolution.

I agree completely. Lets delay manned flight for the next 10 million years and do unmanned space projects in the meantime. Once 10 million years have passed, we'll still have a few billion years or so to master manned flight before the sun burns out.

What other motivation do we need? (5, Insightful)

EvilMagnus (32878) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813629)

"Van Allen comments that 'the only surviving motivation for continuing human spaceflight is the ideology of adventure.'""

Uh...so? The only motivation that got us off our asses and away from our idylic hunter-gatherer lifestyle on the plains of Africa was our desire to see what was over the next hill, what happens if we bash flints together, what happens if we lash a bunch of logs together and float it on the river...

I'd say adventure is a good enough reason to get me my damn spaceship and lunar weekend retreat!

Re:What other motivation do we need? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813709)

Wasn't it more likely that the motivation was hunger, so people followed the food?

Re:What other motivation do we need? (4, Funny)

Rorschach1 (174480) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813726)

"Wasn't it more likely that the motivation was hunger, so people followed the food?"

How do you know there aren't lots of tasty aliens out there if you don't look?

Re:What other motivation do we need? (2, Insightful)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813786)

>I'd say adventure is a good enough reason to get me my damn spaceship and lunar weekend retreat!

From http://www.nasawatch.com/policy.html
"But only a tiny number of Earth's six billion inhabitants are direct participants. For the rest of us, the adventure is vicarious and akin to that of watching a science fiction movie. At the end of the day, I ask myself whether our huge national commitment of technical talent to human spaceflight and the ever present potential for the loss of precious human life are really justifiable."

So really, we are risking alot/spending alot of resources for entertainment? An exotic cottage?

Yes, we can learn things from space travel. But its HUMAN (frail and needy humans) space travel and compairing it to other alternatives (robotics) that the article is questioning.

Re:What other motivation do we need? (2, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813804)

It is a valid point that it is the only justification.

Burt that doesn't mean it should be dismissed. It means we need to decide just how important the ideology of adventure actually is. You seem to think the answer is "very important". Fair enough. It's probably a much better argument than scientific research.

Adventure and... (0)

Scaba (183684) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813630)

Space chicks!

Re:Adventure and... (-1, Troll)

pound-define (800539) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813825)

Ever notice the "beat the rush and see it early" link at the top of slashdot when a new story is about to come out?

Sounds good, doesn't it? To be able to view the pages linked to in the article before the tens of thousands of other slashbots click to view them.

Did it ever occur to you that you're taking part in cyber-terrorism?

That's right: Slashdot's editors are cyber-terrorists. They coordinate a DOS against small websites, and they attempt to collect moeny from people who wish to be spared the effects of said DOS. Terrorism, plain and simple.

You can fight this and other crimes by slashdot's editors by joining anti-slash [anti-slash.org] . Anti-slash is committed to forcing the editors to own up to their numerous crimes against the geek community. Until our demands are met, we will relentlessly discredit them as a news service through trolling and other means.

Also, props to poopbot and the alan thicke troll. We remember your accomplishments.

In sacred jihad,

jihadi_31337

| _ __ | |
_) |_|_)__/_| |
(_) o

heh I first read as Van Halen (5, Funny)

netsavior (627338) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813633)

I was like, odd hair metal and space don't really seem to go together

David Lee Roth is usually Spaced Out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813698)

and the entire band is usually in orbit as well!

Re:heh I first read as Van Halen (1)

shut_up_man (450725) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813761)

What? Hast thou forgotten the holy creation that is Heavy Metal?

Re:heh I first read as Van Halen (4, Funny)

RareHeintz (244414) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813813)

Two words: Final Countdown

Van Allen is such a dweeb nowadays (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813636)

He should swallow his pride and get back with David Lee Roth and rock like he used to.

That explains it! (0, Flamebait)

aka-ed (459608) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813641)

sending astronauts outward from Earth is outdated, too costly, and the science returned is trivial.

I'd been wondering why Bush, customarily wrong on everything, was advocating a strong space program. That guy is all about "adventure."

cheese (1)

bostonhobbit (774681) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813642)

What about the promise of cheese mines on the moon.

Dead on, man! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813643)

Heck, thinking about the shuttle... it's a money pit, cut hardly even an adventure anymore!

The guy plays a mean guitar... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813646)

But who the hell does he think he is talking about spaceflight?

Yep ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813647)

I'm inclined to agree with him - van Allen were a great rock band.

What about the saying (1, Insightful)

I_am_Rambi (536614) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813648)

"To boldly go where where no man has gone before."

I think that is enough. This guy must not be a trekkie fan.

Re:What about the saying (1)

eclectus (209883) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813724)

We'll just have to change it to this:

To boldly have NASA crash a satelite where no one have ever crashed a satelite before....

Re:What about the saying (1)

cephyn (461066) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813763)

I think its enough too. But its not for most people. That may or may not be a problem, to each his own.

But that doesnt mean human spaceflight is a waste. It means that the goals need to be changed to convince a majority of people that its not a waste. Asteroid mining. LowGrav amusement parks. The possibilities are endless but its not JUST about exploration, its about imagination, and many people have that.

Of course, there are lots of problems here on earth too that need work. Everyone's priorities may be different. And that again, may or may not be a bad thing.

Space science isn't something you can do in a jar. (1, Insightful)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813651)

I was just thinking about this today during my ruminescing about the crazy and sometimes haphazard ways in which spaceflight and NASA has returned benefits to our society against adversity from folks not unlike Van Allen. In it's own way, this is comparable to the battle against entrenched interests that new theories must undergo before they become the accepted norm.

Take, for example, the struggle of Galileo against the church to permit society to recognize the fact that the world is round. Or perhaps the modern day battleground of evolution against the challenging new scientific theory of intelligent design, which suggests that certain biological features such as the flagellum are irreducibly complex and therefore could not possibly have been developed by increments as evolutionists would have it. It's a bit like hazing, and while people on both sides of the issue become almost fanatical in defense of their sacred cow the end result is good science.

There is a lot out there to be discovered, and only so much we can do with computers. It'd be nice if we could do it on the cheap, but clearly safety concerns intrude. Space is like the rainforest of the next era -- the sooner we investigate the faster we'll be able to refine its secrets into practical earthbound uses.

Re:Space science isn't something you can do in a j (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813722)

Next book - Clear Cutting Space. How to rape and pillage other planetary systems for fun and profit. by Sheetrock

Re:Space science isn't something you can do in a j (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813792)

the thing is there is stuff to do with MACHINES for at least several decades. several decades during which tech would advance regardless of space exploration. several decades during which pumping money into manned space flights wouldn't produce the same amount of benefit for mankind as pumping those resources into tech advancements here on earth.

space flights are cool though.

You really shouldn't refer to OT nonsense (4, Insightful)

Engineer-Poet (795260) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813811)

Some things I just can't let go by without comment. Quoth the poster: [slashdot.org]
Or perhaps the modern day battleground of evolution against the challenging new scientific theory of intelligent design, which suggests that certain biological features such as the flagellum are irreducibly complex and therefore could not possibly have been developed by increments as evolutionists would have it.
So-called "intelligent design" is not challenging, nor is it a scientific theory (it lacks the feature of falsifiability). If you want to go through large volumes of text which examine the claims of ID in detail, including the "irreducible complexity" of the bacterial flagellum (and find them wanting), look here. [pandasthumb.org]

Getting back to the topic, ID proponents are somewhat like James Van Allen; both assume that they already know all that is worthwhile or necessary, so there is no need to go further except for those things which particularly interest them (plasma physics or biblical exegesis, take your pick). Both are wrong.

Whose spaceflight? (5, Insightful)

Julian Morrison (5575) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813653)

He can end government spaceflight for all I care.

But, private spaceflight, that's none of his business. If he doesn't want a ride, nobody's forcing him to buy a ticket.

Re:Whose spaceflight? (1)

LeahofRivendell (797671) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813771)

Wow...A 4 digit /. account....
That aside, ending government spaceflight would send tons of engineers and scientists into the back into the job market and that wouldn't be good for the rest of the technology industry.

Re:Whose spaceflight? (1)

subrosas (752277) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813784)

Speak for yourself.

As long as my tax dollars go to support government spaceflight, I have an interest in the manner in which it is conducted.

This is a surprise? (5, Insightful)

Engineer-Poet (795260) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813656)

Van Allen's work involves fields and particles, not rocks or life. It's not at all surprising that he doesn't like manned missions; they are no good for his (narrow) field of science. But that doesn't mean that we should take him as anything other than a proponent of his own parochial interests; we should certainly not regard him as an authority on the worth of all expeditions into space.

Re:This is a surprise? (1)

chadjg (615827) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813812)

Your cynicism is appropriate given human nature. But in this case we can assume that the speaker is not an idiot and therefore worthy of some attention.

Is he wrong? Selfish or not?

Adventure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813657)

Space...The Starting Frontier!

coincidence? (1)

mrak and swepe (799450) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813659)

James van Allen - the discoverer of the Van Allen radiation belt Isn't that an amazing coincidence?

I read that as.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813661)

Van Halen Questions Human Spaceflight...

We have explored all of Earth (1)

Sovern (631825) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813663)

What is left now to feed the desire of most humans to explore and gather knowledge about what is beyond our own vision. The balance between the cost of the exploration and its proportion to the budgets of each nation state is debatable. Add to this the future of private space flight and we will see no end to the exploration of space.

You're forgetting the oceans (2, Insightful)

GuyMannDude (574364) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813728)

I'd just like to point out that "we have explored all of Earth" is definitely not true. The deep oceans are something that we are just barely starting to explore. There are some crazy looking motherfuckers living down there. They glow and shit. And they don't even need light to live -- how wack is that? Seriously, though, I understand your sentiment (and I agree with it) that space is the next big frontier. I just wanted to point out that there are still a few exciting opportunities still here on Earth.

GMD

I can think of a couple (5, Insightful)

maxpublic (450413) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813667)

(1) Avoiding single points of failure for the entire human race (e.g., giant asteroid nails Earth);

(2) Profiting off the immense riches to be had in space, once the technology is advanced enough to gather those riches at a profit;

(3) The same reason people climb K2

Max

Re:I can think of a couple (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813746)

(1) Avoiding single points of failure for the entire human race (e.g., giant asteroid nails Earth);

By that, I assume you mean the eventual colonization of locations other than Earth. I completley agree. Even if you assumed that experiments done thus far in space could be done in a self contained robot, you could never replace the medical data we've gathered from studying the astronauts themselves.

For instance, we now know that even with an excercise regimine, astronauts still lose bone mass at a disturbing rate. Therefore, very long term zero-gravity flights are going to be a problem. We have to find a way to keep them from losing that bone mass before we can go anywhere.

And there are certainly some solutions not yet found that would not only benefit astronauts, but people with osteoperosis here at home.

nasa's contributions (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813668)

If I recall, many good things have come out of research for space flight, including velcro and lightning prediction, etc. I say we keep playing and invent more cool stuff.

whoops (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813699)

"lightning prediction"
should read: "lightning and other weather technology"

Those were the only two things I could think of, but there has to be a whole whole lot more, and this is discounting all the gps and weather satalites and what have you that we use to make our lives better and safer.

only motivation? (1)

jrexilius (520067) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813676)

How about to continue developing the technology that would be needed to make use of that which our (assumed) robots would find. Unless we want to find nice planets for robots to live we would need to get there ourselves. And if you are asking why we would want to spread to another planet lets just say redundency is usually considered A Good Thing. Errant asteroids and other unpredicitaed system failures aside.. just a though on other possible motivations.

Yea, well... (4, Insightful)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813677)

We can't honestly keep on going like we are on this planet and survive much longer. We're using up resources faster than we can keep track of them and it's becoming easier and easier to make weapons of mass destruction... which terrorists will inevitably use against other nations/cultures. Especially as the population continues to skyrocket.

So, call me whatever you want, but Van Allen is just missing the big picture. We gotta get off this rock.

Or should we just wait for an asteroid cataclysm or some other natural disaster? I'd rather not. Personally, I think we should spend more money and effort on things like space elevators and fusion/antimatter/exotic matter propulsion.

In short, to Van Allen: screw you too buddy.

Ideology of Adventure? (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813678)

ideology of adventure he cites as the only reason for manned spaceflight is not an end unto itself - it is a way to maintain human interest and thus funding. It's pretty hard to get people interested in space when the only thing riding on it is a handful of integrated circuits. The average person couldn't care less about space travel or advancing science (Except perhaps in the medical arena) and in order to maintain any significant public interest whatsoever is is probably necessary to keep sending up manned missions.

Jump! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813679)


'the only surviving motivation for continuing human spaceflight is the ideology of adventure.'


The motivation is that humans

Might as well jump (...Jump!)
Might as well jump
Go ahead jump (...Jump!) ahead

That is, up into space.

Sorry.

Oh, is that all? (1)

prisoner-of-enigma (535770) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813685)

Van Allen comments that 'the only surviving motivation for continuing human spaceflight is the ideology of adventure.'"

Oh, is that all? Well, if that's the case we should abandon manned spaceflight entirely. After all, what has the ideology of adventure brought us in the past? Well, there was that "get out of the cave to look for food" thing. Then there was the "discover new lands" thing, and the "found new cities" thing, and the "develop trade" thing. Then there was the whole "New World" thing.

Yes, Van Allen is right. We should've stayed in the caves. We should've left the "ideology of adventure" to some other species and blissfully sunk into extinction as a result.

Re:Oh, is that all? (2, Insightful)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813772)

What he is saying that unmanned space flight has the same scientific value but costs infinitely less than manned space flight. If the sole reason we're doing manned flight is adventure, maybe our money would be better spend elsewhere.

Ask yourself this: Considering it will cost billions to send people to the moon versus the millions it cost sending unmanned flights, exactly what scientific experiment could those people do that an unmanned flight could not do? Look for evidence of life or water? Collect samples? Please enlighten me why we need to send a human there to do those things?

Duh!!! (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813823)

I meant Mars not the moon!

Costs (2, Interesting)

Klar (522420) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813686)

Space exploration is so expensive right now. Any large scale things cost way too much with current technology and building methods for how much they bring in to the community. Although commercial projects to make cheaper space devices seem to be making it big as of late. I'd love to see space exploration exlode(not physically, cause ouch) and be a plossible commercial oppertunity.
I'd think that manufacturing and power plants would be great on the moon as to reduce pollution and accidents close to home. Maybe when the technology gets cheaper though. Still a ways off I'd say.

Adventure Yes but It's Mainly about Money (2, Insightful)

Louis Savain (65843) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813689)

'the only surviving motivation for continuing human spaceflight is the ideology of adventure'

There is lot more money to be made from the taxpayer from pursuing human space flights. Robots are much cheaper and not nearly as lucrative to NASA.

and? (1)

wisdom_brewing (557753) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813692)

and what better motivation is there?

getting bloody hard finding something on earth that someone hasnt done before...

Bye Bye Earth (1)

MacFury (659201) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813694)

I expect that within my lifetime people will finalize realize just how messed up we've made this planet. It would be nice to know that people are on some other planet continuing our existence while Earth withers away.

Only surviving motivation? (1)

rafael_es_son (669255) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813696)

Whatever happened to getting our (planetwise-our) spacefaring technologies ready for escape? It's only a matter of time before we (planetwise-we) crash and become one with old Sol. Maybe we should be content with sending Sea Monkeys on a probe according to this guy.

Shouldn't we aiming high? (1)

Pandion (179894) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813700)

If we didn't try to make space accessible to humans would we still have all the benefits from the space program? Comets are great and all, but I don't think there is much about them that applies directly to life here on earth. At least not to the same degree that technology that enables human exploration does.

Re:Shouldn't we aiming high? (1)

Pandion (179894) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813718)

forgot the 'be' in the title :P

Manned Space Flight... (1)

orrigami (769691) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813705)

has given us on of the best tasting inventions ever. TANG! Yes, it doesn't taste all that good, but it is lighter then carrying a gallon of FL Natural OJ on your back for a camping trip.

He's absolutely right... (5, Insightful)

cephyn (461066) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813707)

...if you follow this assumption:
"Let us not obfuscate the issue with false analogies to Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, and Lewis and Clark, or with visions of establishing a pleasant tourist resort on the planet Mars," van Allen suggests

The space shuttle is PR. The ISS is a waste and a flop. The ISS should be a means not an end. Flags and footprints of COURSE aren't worth it if, again, they are an end and not a beginning.

However, those analogies to Columbus, Magellan, L&C and the tourist resort on Mars cease to be false if the goals are changed. If the point is to continue to grow out and off our ball of dirt, then none of the steps are a waste. If the goal is to put a flag on Mars and never return, then yes, it is a waste.

Another reason (5, Insightful)

abb3w (696381) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813708)

Manned spaceflight will require us to develop an understanding of the requirements of supporting human life in a finite ecology located in space [nasa.gov] . That might be worthwhile....

Litterally millions of applications on earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813711)

Everything from watchmaking to watch repair.

Adventure (3, Insightful)

Jim_Hawkins (649847) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813714)

Ummm...correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the thrill (or ideology in this case) of adventure what has driven mankind to grow beyond their boundaries? I mean, because of adventure, we headed west from our comfortable homes in England.

We destoryed the indians.

Then we headed west to the plains from our comfortable homes in the 13 colonies.

We, again, destroyed the indians.

And, of course, the lure of gold and adventure brought EVERYBODY to the Pacific coast.

By this time, the indians had become wise to us and had moved to Canada.

Okay, well, the thing with the indians could've been handled a whole lot differently. But, the whole "thrill of adventure" is what causes the human race to grow. He's saying space exploration just exists for adventure?

Exactly.

Re:Adventure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813774)

Sorry to burst your bubble, but I don't think settling a country (that was already settled) qualifies as "breaking human boundaries".

Yes, Americans are very fascinated about how their country was started, and like to make out is was a voluntary thing rather than a mostly-enforced nightmare for those concerned, but don't believe the national mythology that this unremarkable (in a global context) event was somehow an incredible breakthrough for all Homo Sapiens.

Green alien chicks (1)

Ikoma Andy (41693) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813716)

There are no green alien chicks on Earth.

To quote Heinlein (3, Insightful)

i_r_sensitive (697893) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813721)

What about:
The Earth is too fragile a basket for humanity to store all it's eggs in.

Two words probably learned in 5th grade... (1)

DA_MAN_DA_MYTH (182037) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813731)

Manifest Destiny. [webster.com]

the sun is going to explode... (1)

mr_burns (13129) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813735)

...and if we're not sustainable somewhere else by then we will go extinct.

From the article ... (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813738)

"Let us not obfuscate the issue with false analogies to Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, and Lewis and Clark, or with visions of establishing a pleasant tourist resort on the planet Mars," van Allen suggests.

He has to explain why those analogies are false, and what's wrong with those visions. And I have the feeling he can't.

so what is the meaning of anything (1)

scaaven (783465) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813740)

Van Allen comments that 'the only surviving motivation for continuing human spaceflight is the ideology of adventure.'

those damn adventurers and their ships... i know i'd be content living back in europe where walking was my only mode of transportation. all those people wasting their time building those 'motor buggies' or 'flying machines'. nope, no thank you. no adventure for me, folks. i'm satisified living a static existence.

old people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813743)

Van Allen is a crotchety old man. He knows his useful life is over and can't bear to see a younger generation accomplish this kind of space travel.

Human spaceflight as neurotic compulsion (1, Insightful)

Allen Varney (449382) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813745)

Modern proponents of human spaceflight always seem to fall back on two arguments: (1) Get off the Earth so humanity won't go extinct when we blow up the Earth, and (2) exploration is an inherent human instinct.

(1) If we're so stupid we can destroy the only planet we live on, I don't see how we're doing the universe a favor by spreading.

(2) Satisfying an inherent human instinct shouldn't require a multi-hundred-billion-dollar budget. If you have an instinct to explore, check out your city sewer system, or look into the obscure corners of the Mandelbrot Set, or play an online game. All these activities satisfy the brute animal urge to get into new places.

In my experience, people who argue for human spaceflight on the grounds of "instinct" haven't examined their positions closely. They seem remarkably similar to religious ideologues.

A Lot of you... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813753)

Are missing the point entirely. Van Allen is questioning HUMAN spaceflight. He simply points out that most of our discoveries have been made by robots, and he's probably right. Space is much more suited for our metallic brethren than people, and is much cheaper as well.

He's not advocating that we stop space exploration entirely, as many of you seem to think.

following on the "all eggs together" problem (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813754)

Has he considered the current population growth rate? What happens when we hit the point of saturation?

Dr. Van Allen would also do well to consider what great advances the space program has already brought us as a human race. How many times have we heard "nothing left to invent," only to see more disruptive technology a decade later?

Van Allen Considered Harmful (2, Insightful)

RareHeintz (244414) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813767)

This statement is not very bright and not at all visionary. Besides the likely scientific and possible economic benefits (and opinions of the potential for these vary, admittedly), there's one overarching reason of critical importance: Survival of our species.

With time, our ability to create a planet-wide catastrophe threatening our species survival grows exponentially. There are any number of ways we could do ourselves in ecologically or militarily, but the chances of those wiping out all of humanity are reduced when we're spread out among more than one planet - moreso if that planet is terraformed or otherwise made human-friendly on a large scale and self-sufficient without shipping of either raw materials or finished goods from earth.

Anyone who is interested, as Van Allen claims to be, in "the ever-present potential for the loss of precious human life" should be unequivocally for, not against, manned human spaceflight with a final goal of extraterrestrial colonization.

OK,
- B

hmmm ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813768)

i'm just wondering how the robot is going to
transmit the feeling of ZERO Gs?

He's right (3, Insightful)

MarsDefenseMinister (738128) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813773)

Space exploration is a dangerous business, and humans are too valuable to risk. Or at least they should be.

Computers and robots are terrific explorers. I believe that they can also be terrific builders of infrastructure. That's the direction that future space missions should follow.

I'm not saying that humans should stay home. I am saying that if I had to build a log cabin on the moon myself, or have a robot do it for me, I'd let the robot do it.

We need to reduce expenditures on manned spaceflight and redirect those resources to basic research in materials, computer systems, robotics, and planetary chemistry. Out of this research would come technologies allowing us to explore the solar system remotely, build robust spacecraft, and actually make a living off the materials available on the planet or moon we happen to be standing on.

In a word - Bullshit (1)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813780)

Survival of our species should be the prime reason for manned space exploration.
We MUST spread our seeds far and wide.
Keeping all our eggs (literally) in the same basket is asking to follow in the path of dinosaurs.

Land lubber he be! (1)

Codeak (586463) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813781)

If not "adventure" then where would the funding come from? Pure science is boring to the masses.... but adventure... Argh maties!

or.... (1)

H8X55 (650339) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813791)

Van Allen comments that 'the only surviving motivation for continuing human spaceflight is the ideology of adventure.'

or to scope out new places to bury our earth garbage.

Well yeah (1)

dddno (743682) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813795)

the only surviving motivation for continuing human spaceflight is the ideology of adventure.

Seems good enough for me.

Risk, adventure, curiosity and the will to expand is the essence of human kind. We'd still climb trees in fur if it was otherwise.

No substitute for people (3, Insightful)

grunt107 (739510) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813797)

Computers are getting better but the human experience is where all advancement has been achieved. The current mission has taught somethings, but the next mission (if robotic) would need to be limited in scope (travel to 'x' drill hole, look for stuff), and missions repeated until objectives reached, whereas human interaction could alter actions outside limited parameters.

Although life is precious and reckless endangerment is to be decried, the fact is life is sometimes jeopardized/sacrificed for the greater advancement of the species (human or otherwise). Although not a good analogy, it is similar in sentiment to those unwilling to risk lives in battle.

Unwillingly to sacrifice one sacrifices all. THe 'all' in this case just happens to be knowledge and experience. If carefully balanced, some risk is acceptable (I'd do it).

Human science in space hasn't had a fair shot. (1)

zipwow (1695) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813803)

Van Allen answers his own concern, it seems to me. First he says,

"Casting an eye on the space shuttle's contribution to science, van Allen suggests they have been modest, 'and its contribution to utilitarian applications of space technology has been insignificant.'".

Okay, maybe. But then he says:

[the ISS crew] "have barely enough time to manage the station, never mind conduct any significant research."

So.. it seems that he's saying that it hasn't really been tried, so we shouldn't do it. I'll admit the ISS isn't where we wanted it to be, but I hardly think failure to support it makes the case for scrapping manned spaceflight.

-Zipwow

Looking back (1)

Paddyish (612430) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813805)

It seems to me that the best periods in human history have been those of exploration and colonization - the creation of new economies, the excitement of a 'new world', the potential for many to start fresh in a new place with lots of space to expand.

When space travel gets to the point where this is possible, the human inclusion will not only be justified, it will be necessary.

expansion anyone? (1)

Traa (158207) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813806)

'the only surviving motivation for continuing human spaceflight is the ideology of adventure.'

I find the idea of venturing into space for the use of expanding the living quarters of us here human race an appropriate motivation too.

We must continue Human Spaceflight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813807)

For a couple of reasons:

1. We have to know if anyone else is out there. Yes, it could possibly be done via Telescopes (Ground and Space based), but there's no way we could ever entirely be sure we looked everywhere.

2. And this is the biggest reason in my estimation. We can't stay here on Earth indefinitely, if only because our civilization will collapse eventually from some natural (Asteroid or Cometary Bombardments, Biosphere Collapse, Ice Age, and possibly Global Warming due to fluctuating Solar Radiation) or man made disaster (Nuclear War, Plague spread via air travel, Nanotech Disaster, or even in the distant future Global Demographic change whereby the world is too old and set in its ways to wish to leave).

Now it's fun to explore new territory and Space is no exception, but from a practical standpoint it is only logical that Mankind expand his influence beyond this one tiny sphere, to find other sentient beings and to guarantee his survival indefinitely. Manned spaceflight isn't at an end, it's only just begun.

As several others have noted (1)

Unnngh! (731758) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813819)

...what is the problem with adventure? Humans would doubtfully have ever evolved from the primordial sludge without adventure. Some brave organism had to be the first to do something different, to creep from the sea to land, to find that there are better means of survival than barest necessity.

Every time I see a criticism of manned space flight I just think the person is a coward. Adventure is the spice of life, and if someone thinks this is unimportant, well, they are welcome to their opinion. I just wish they wouldn't try to stop the progress of the rest of the race. Space is our destiny.

Echoes of ancient China (2, Insightful)

visgoth (613861) | more than 10 years ago | (#9813827)

This article here [distant-star.com] draws an interesting comparison between ancient China and the current views toward space travel being held a good number of americans.
It would appear that the average person is content with their idiotic tv, fattening foods, gas guzzling road yachts, and other such pointless pursuits.

So? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9813830)

Was it much better when our only motivation was getting there before the Russians did?

Geez!
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