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« What Should A Space Agency Do? | Main | What Next? »


I'm listening to "To The Point," Warren Olney's show on NPR. He's talking about space, and as usual (not for him, for the media in general), he's asking the wrong question. "Should humans be in space?"

No way to answer that question, Warren, unless you first stipulate what we're trying to do there, but until you do, it makes no more sense than to ask "Should humans be in California?"

Sadly, he spent twenty minutes or so talking to Bob Park, and now he's got Donna Shirley on. The assumption, of course, is that the only reason for a space program is science.


[Update a little later]

They also interview Howard McCurdy, who says we'll commit to Mars in the year 2050...

At least, toward the end, Donna Shirley put in a good word for the entrepreneurial launch companies. But that was the only sense in which this wasn't a traditional debate about man versus robots.

The good thing is everyone is saying that we have to have a national debate as to purposes.

I'll have to bug Warren to do a show with a wider variety of viewpoints, and without so many inherent (false) assumptions. He did two or three years ago, with me, Tom Rogers, and Lori Garver.

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 28, 2003 01:33 PM
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Asking today "Do Humans belong in space?" is a bit like asking "Do humans belong in Iowa?" Or, a bit like someone 70,000 years ago sitting in Eastern Africa asking "Do humans belong in that other valley over there?"

Humans "belong" anyplace they choose.

The question is really just a euphemism for "Shouldn't we just give up and be small?"

Posted by enloop at August 28, 2003 04:54 PM

'Don?t tell me that man doesn?t belong out there. Man belongs wherever he wants to go?and he?ll do plenty well when he gets there.'

-- Wernher Von Braun

Posted by Ken Silber at August 28, 2003 05:16 PM

What's changed is that for the first time in several centuries, the small minded, those who say we should stay at home and think small are in charge. Why is anyone surprised that the people who think everyone should be forced to be equal at the same low level (excepting themselves, of course) would want to not expand. One lesson that history teaches is that frontiers can't be micromanaged and controlled, and have a tendency toward unintended consequences. There's a distinct danger we could inadvertently create another, evenbetter United States, "out there". Better to stay her and complain how things just aren't perfect.

Posted by Raoul Ortega at August 28, 2003 08:21 PM

Asking today "Do Humans belong in space?" is a bit like asking "Do humans belong in Iowa?"

Do humans belong in Iowa?

Last time I looked, federal farm subsides were a primary reason for human life in the Ethanol State.

Posted by Duncan Young at August 29, 2003 05:47 AM

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