Professor Erika Harnett
ESS 102 AB
11 October 2017
Human Vs Robotic Space Exploration
Space travel is a concept that has evoked excitement since the beginning of the space race in the late 1950s. However, as robotic technology has developed, whether humans should be sent to space has been questioned. Sending humans to space has an inherently higher risk than sending robots – human life is just worth so much more than any material cost. Even with the highest level of safety measures, there is still a level of risk. Astronauts have died due to space travel in the past, and there is always the possibility that it happens again. This risk, however, is worth it for the variety of benefits that it provides. Human intelligence provides a level of flexibility that robots can’t yet compete with, allowing for more efficient exploration. Human space travel also tests the feasibility of inhabiting areas outside Earth.
While there will probably always be some level of inherent risk with space travel, it may not be as bad as it initially seems. According to astronaut Rick Hauck, who manned 3 separate missions, the 4% fatality rate may not be fully accurate (Foust, “Weighing the Risks of Human Spaceflight”). While that is quite a large number, it may not be as bad as it initially seems. There simply haven’t been enough space missions to get an accurate sample size. With such a small number of events, minor changes can cause a large change in the percentage. Another thing