Sorry, but I don’t have a lot of sympathy for this woman:
…the situation has pitted Ms. Douceur and her family against Raytheon Polar Services, which manages the station through a contract with the National Science Foundation. Both Raytheon and the science foundation say that it would be too dangerous to send a rescue plane to the South Pole now and that Ms. Douceur’s condition is not life-threatening.
“During the winter period, extremely cold temperatures and high winds make an extraction dangerous for all involved, passengers as well as crew,” said Jon Kasle, a Raytheon spokesman, “and such an extraction is considered only in life-threatening conditions.”
So, here’s my question. NASA was recently considering abandoning the International Space Station because they didn’t have a reliable lifeboat to extract astronauts in an emergency. But Amundsen-Scott is inaccessible for half of the year, every year, and yet people winter over there. Why isn’t the NSF spending billions to develop an Emergency Crew Extraction Vehicle for the south pole? Or, why are astronauts’ lives worth so much more than those of Antarctic researchers? Or is the research they’re doing on ISS worth so little that they’re unwilling to risk lives on it?
This to me is a perfect example of the irrationality of our space policy.