Posted on Mar 19, 2021 74
Today, when many tasks on Earth orbit are performed by robots, and interplanetary flights are fully automatic, many people ask themselves: why send people into space, risking their lives, if automatic stations can do all the work instead?
Satellites and orbital stations do a lot of work in space. However, they are just machines, and machines need maintenance. Often, during the operation of spacecraft, abnormal situations arise that cannot be solved by automatons - human hands and intellect are required to be involved. For example, this was the case with the Hubble Automated Orbiting Observatory. Already, in the first weeks after its launch, scientists discovered a defect in its optical system caused by a technician’s error during its assembly. To replace the mirror in orbit was impossible, and to bring the telescope down to Earth - too expensive and long. Then a special corrective device was developed, and the installation of this device was carried out, of course, by people - members of the first Hubble expedition to service the Hubble.
By the way, the Hubble was originally designed to be serviced in orbit during spacewalks from reusable spacecraft. Total were carried out four expeditions to service the Hubble telescope (one of them was divided into two sorties): the first - in 1993, the second - in 1997 and 1999, the third - in 2003, the fourth - in 2006.
Human participation is necessary not only to fix malfunctions of orbital automata. Several tasks assigned to the International Space Station (ISS) are also impossible for human participation, namely scientific research. These include the study of biological processes in zero-gravity conditions, the testing of new pharmaceutical technologies, the testing of new materials and instruments for work in space.
However, it must be honestly admitted that there are debates about the need to send people into space and among specialists. Many of them rightly point out that many of the scientific studies that are conducted on the ISS can also be conducted on Earth in conditions of artificial weightlessness, while the rest “are not of primary importance” (Professor Robert Park). Opponents of manned flights also remind us of their high cost.
Their opponents object that the practice of manned flights is necessary all the time, at least in order not to lose the experience of such flights. In addition, almost all acknowledge that among the reasons space should be explored is the natural human desire to learn about the world, and to expand our habitat. Humanity dreams of a mission to Mars, but is not yet ready for it. If such a flight finally becomes possible, it will not happen before 10-15 years from now. And if we curtail the program of manned flights now when it is needed for interplanetary flights, we will have to start it practically from scratch.
That is why manned space flights will continue!