Space Station has cost humans 150 billion U.S. dollars, Should it be abandoned?

Naija Tech News (NTN) on 03, and in content, Space Station has cost humans 150 billion U.S. dollars, Should it be abandoned?, Astronauts, Elon Musk, space, SpaceX .

on November 2 this year, we ushered in the 20th anniversary of the continuous stationing of mankind on the International Space Station. However, someone has now raised a question: Should astronauts hang up their spacesuits and leave space exploration to the robot to complete?

At 6:50 a.m. GMT on November 20, 1998, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reporter Richard Hulihan curled up behind a rock in the Kazakh prairie and put his phone next to his ear. The snow-covered ground merges with the gray sky. Behind him, a loudspeaker uttered intermittent Russian, but the Russian who was supposed to guard it was now in a wooden house nearby, enjoying vodka.

In the distance, a white Proton carrier rocket stood quietly on the launch pad, almost invisible against a monochrome background. Suddenly, with a flash of light and a crackling roar, it began to rise from the ground.

As the rocket accelerated towards the sky and disappeared into the clouds, Richard Houlihan described the scene to the audience of the BBC radio. After all, this is a historic moment-the Zarya functional cargo compartment carried on the Proton launch vehicle is the first component of the International Space Station. However, Chad Hulihan tried his best to describe that the launch did not make headlines.

The “Dawn” functional cargo compartment launched in 1998 was the first part of the International Space Station into orbit.

The fact that the BBC sent a junior radio reporter instead of a senior reporter to report on the launch has proved the media and the public’s views on this matter. At that time, the International Space Station program had been postponed for several years, and greatly exceeded the budget . The scientific director of the British Space Agency called the space station “an orbital burden” and the British government refused to provide funding for it. Many people are wondering whether the International Space Station can be successfully completed.

It turns out that they are all wrong. The International Space Station is the size of an American football field, and the living space is equivalent to a six-bedroom house. No matter by any standard, it is an extraordinary engineering achievement. So far, the project has cost about 150 billion U.S. dollars, paid by taxpayers in the United States, Russia, Europe, Canada, and Japan. For 20 years, astronauts have been stationed on the International Space Station.

In November 2000, “Expedition-1” (Expedition-1) entered the International Space Station, which was the first expedition team in history to reach the International Space Station. Since then, there have been human beings living and working on orbit. According to the latest statistics, a total of 243 astronauts from 19 countries visited the International Space Station and conducted about 3000 scientific experiments there.

Nevertheless, there are still questions about whether the space station is worth spending so much money, and whether it is valuable to people on Earth. With the pandemic of the new crown epidemic and the threat of climate change covering the earth, some people once again question the motives of sending humans into space.

So far, the International Space Station has cost humans 150 billion U.S. dollars.

“I definitely think that the International Space Station is not worth 12-figure money,” said Martin Rees, a British astronomer and astrophysicist. “Of the hundreds of astronauts who have stayed on the International Space Station, none Anyone who has done any valuable scientific research is enough to prove that even a small part of the cost of the space shuttle and space station is worthwhile.”

Martin Reese believes that we should not spend public funds on the International Space Station, but should invest in robotic space science missions, because these missions change our view of the universe. At present, many spacecraft are sending back pictures and scientific data from Mars and Jupiter. The two Voyager probes have also left the solar system and become the first man-made objects to enter interstellar space. In 2014, a spacecraft even successfully landed on a comet that was 4 kilometers wide, 56 billion kilometers from the earth, and flying at a speed of 55,000 kilometers per hour.

“If you want to ask how much newsworthiness (the International Space Station) proves, then we can say that the news from the Hubble Telescope and Mars, Jupiter and Saturn missions is much more than from the space station,” Martin Reese said. “When Chris Hadfield sings, or the toilet breaks, the space station will become news. I think it will be harder and harder to spend public money to send people into space in the future.”

Since the launch of Dawn’s functional cargo hold in 1998, the situation has changed a lot. Although the International Space Station is almost entirely funded by public funds, the future of human space exploration is not only promoted by space agencies, but also by some ambitious individuals. For example, Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, and Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man and founder of Amazon.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s goal is to return humans to the moon in 2024, and Elon Musk’s plan is to establish a settlement on Mars, and he even talked about dying there (of course not because of an impact) . Bezos prefers the idea of ​​building giant rotating colonies in space. However, not everyone involved in space exploration agrees with their dream, because it is tantamount to leaving all kinds of worrying dilemmas on Earth.

The future of human space exploration is partly in the hands of private organizations, such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

“The manned space business has fallen,” said Linda Billings, a researcher at the non-profit National Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and an analyst engaged in space research. Currently serving on the National Space Council of the United States, she was an advocate of manned spaceflight, but now she has changed her views. The title of her latest article is “Should Humans Colonize Other Planets?” Do not”.

“By depravity I mean fragmentation,” Linda Billings explained. “It’s inefficient and too expensive. In my opinion, the bottom line is: what’s the point of this?”

She believes that the motivation for manning people into space is not driven by science. “I found that the theoretical basis on which these reasons are based is very weak-this is an ideological theoretical basis, which is actually driven by Driven by value beliefs.”

You might say that without conquest and development, there would be no civilization. Almost no one would doubt the courage of astronauts to forge ahead. They have ventured into orbit on experimental rockets, and even landed on the moon. However, Billings questioned the motives of human beings. She believes that we can still explore and use space for science and satellite technology, but humans should stay on Earth.

“NASA has done a lot of useful work in studying climate change, and our political system and business community are also very grateful, but no one really cares,” said Linda Billings. “How human space exploration is used Those in Bangladesh and India who depend on water for survival but who may eventually be flooded benefit? I worry about this every day.”

This touches on the question of inequality at the heart of the human space program: who should be sent? Except for the astronaut Valentina Tereshkova (the first female astronaut to enter space), the first generation of astronauts were white men, and most of them were military test pilots. Today, most astronauts are still pilots, and many are veterans.

In July 1969, shortly before the launch of Apollo 11, black civil rights protesters from the southern United States gathered in Cape Canaveral, emphasizing that sending humans into space is not a problem when many Americans live in poverty. equal. American civil rights lawyer (and space enthusiast) Robert Patillo (Robert Patillo) expects similar controversies in the future.

“By the 1950s, we will see privately owned space stations, where people will be able to go on vacation, if you have enough income. We may also have a moon-based space station by the end of this century,” Patillo said.

“The question that will arise is: How do we ensure that those beneficiaries pay their due share on the planet so that we have health care, clean water and education systems?” He continued, “This is for society Basic things that must be done for normal operation under their control.”

Even if Elon Musk finally succeeds in reaching Mars, Martian society is unlikely to become the utopia some people dream of. The surface of this planet is a dusty red desert… There is no air to breathe, no food to eat, and the water is locked in ice.

At an average distance of 225 million kilometers from the earth, any call for help from the first settlers will take 24 minutes to reach the earth, and another 24 minutes to get a reply. “Humanity is not ready to leave the earth,” Linda Billings said. “Before we can consider this issue, we need to go through a lot of intellectual, social and moral evolution.”

So, for the dream of colonizing space, have we gone too far? Martin Reese believes that as a species that evolves for the sake of life on earth, we must accept our limitations. “We should not see ourselves as the culmination of evolution,” he said. “It may only take a few centuries at most for entities to appear completely different from human beings-they may be flesh and blood, genetically modified, or electronic. Of course-these species or entities can certainly be explored in the distant space beyond the earth, in a sense, they are our offspring.”

In 20 years, the International Space Station has become the new home for astronauts outside the earth. They showed us the difficulty of living and working in space-confined space, processed food for food, drinking and recycling of sweat and urine, etc. On the other hand, we also see the challenges and expensive costs of this kind of life.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of the space station is to allow us to better appreciate the earth. Whether it is an astronaut or an ordinary person, the International Space Station is a very special existence; the view of space and the earth from the window of the space station is shocking and greatly expands the human imagination.

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