Should We Persue Manned Space Flights?

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Manned Space

Should We Pursue Manned Space Exploration?

By Rohan Shah

So why are we asking this now? 

Man's presence in space started with Yuri Gagarin in 1961 and reached its climax just eight years later when Apollo XI carried men to the moon, 250,000 miles from earth. However do we really need to continue exploring space through manned space flights, is there any real need? Or is there an alternative and why are we asking ourselves this question now? Manned space flights are hugely expensive and there is a huge risk to human health. As well as the cost there is the fact that if the mission goes wrong and blows up or we learn nothing new from the mission that it has been a great waste of money. In space there are countless things that could happen that would damage human health and often result in death. There have been occasions in the past where the shuttles have proved faulty before even leaving the Earth’s atmosphere killing all the crew on board. Do all these negatives cancel out any positives manned space might have to offer?

In this case study I shall write about manned space flights and their positives and negatives, discussing whether they should or should not continue and the evidence supporting both sides of the argument.  


A brief history about manned space exploration

The earliest practical work on rocket engines designed for spaceflight occurred simultaneously during the early 20th century in three countries by three key scientists: in Russia, by Konstantin Tsiolkovski; in the United States, by Robert Goddard; and in Germany, by Hermann Oberth.

On October 4, 1957, the Soviets launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, into space. Four years later on April 12, 1961, Russian Lt. Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit Earth in Vostok 1. His flight lasted 108 minutes.

Slightly later the first U.S. satellite, Explorer 1, went into orbit on January 31, 1958. In 1961 Alan Shepard became the first American to fly into space.

On July 20, 1969, Astronaut Neil Armstrong took “a giant step for mankind” as he stepped onto the moon. Six Apollo missions were made to explore the moon between 1969 and 1972.

During the 1960s unmanned spacecrafts photographed and probed the moon before astronauts ever landed. By the early 1970s the Mariner spacecraft was orbiting and mapping the surface of Mars and by the end of the decade the Voyager spacecraft had sent back detailed images of Jupiter and Saturn.

Skylab, America’s first space station was a human-spaceflight highlight of the 1970s, as was the Apollo Soyuz Test Project, the world’s first internationally crewed (American and Russian) space mission.

In April 1981 the launch of the space shuttle Columbia ushered in a period of reliance on the reusable shuttle for most civilian and military space missions. Twenty-four successful shuttle launches fulfilled many scientific and military requirements until January 1986, when the shuttle Challenger exploded after launch, killing its crew of seven.

What was the motivation behind these missions?

We might sometimes ask ourselves “why did we bother sending people out into space?” Well there are a number of possible reasons why we spent billions of Dollars and risked many human lives pursuing manned space flights.

As humans we are constantly trying to test our limits and break records. It is the same with space travel. A certain curiosity of what it feels like outside Earth drives us to pursue manned space. Many past missions have had a point to them which lead to other points. Such as is there life on the moon which leads to the question, is there water on thee moon.

Also as we there is an immense amount we can learn from manned space missions which helps us here down on Earth. There is also the question of how long this planet will remain habitable for. What will we do when the Earth cannot sustain our ever increasing population? Where will we go if Global Warming heats the planet to inhabitable temperatures or a comet collides with the Earth? By continuing manned space we are learning more and more about planets in our solar system and whether they could be suitable for habitation for future generations? However, the question remains, as technology has advances so much do we need manned space missions? Can’t robots and machines just take our place?

Manned Space Flights

A manned space flight is a flight out of the Earth’s atmosphere made by a man usually in a rocket or reusable space shuttle. The first example of this is by the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who orbited the planet in Vostok 1 which was launched on 12 April 1961. The main obvious difference between a manned and unmanned space flight is that there are no people onboard an unmanned spaceflight. Also unmanned spaceships cost much less to produce as less safety features have to be made as there is no risk of a human casualty. Manned spaceships also have to be able to produce a suitable atmosphere in which human can breathe as well as other various safety precautions.

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What is the near future of manned space travel?

NASA has aimed to replace its space shuttle with a new model, called Orion that closely resembles a larger version of the Apollo module which took men to the moon in 1972. Orion is scheduled to make its first manned flight in 2013 while NASA’s current shuttle is aiming to be taken out in four years time, leaving a three year gap in which the US will have no craft to service the International Space Station. Orion’s objective is to take people to Mars for the first ever time.

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