Manned Exploration of Outer Space Is Not Cost-Effective

Keeping a person alive and well in outer space is difficult. Each extra piece of equipment one has to carry to cater to those needs adds more weight to an expedition. By contrast, robots do not require life-support, and while there is sadness if a robot mission fails, such a failure does not occasion the upset caused by the death of an astronaut.

Furthermore, robots can be programmed to make scientific measurements and radio them back. It isn’t clear what comparative advantage a human offers in this context. Looking at cost-effectiveness, astronauts should stay on earth.

I think our fascination with manned (or womaned?) space flight is romantic rather than rational. We treat pilots and astronauts as heroes. There’s no question that they are talented and brave, but that’s not an argument as to why we should hire them for this particular task. Perhaps the politicians think that only by sending people into space will public support for space exploration be maintained. I think Americans are smarter than that.

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