To Recently there have been many advancements

To say that there is a definite side to these arguments would be naive. There are many arguments in support of both sides, but I believe that there are more advantages in human lead missions supplemented by robots rather than fully robotic missions. Recently there have been many advancements made in reducing the price of sending rockets into space. Particularly, Elon Musk who, through SpaceX, has significantly reduced the cost of sending rockets into space and he is continuing to make them more and more materially efficient and affordable.1 This brings us to one of the main arguments against humans: the cost. There are many things to consider other than just the humans themselves, but also food, water and other resources and technology needed to keep a human alive in space–particularly during long-term missions like Mars. But, I believe, with the increasingly reduced cost of sending rockets to space, the price difference may become negligible within the next decade–at least in what the government is willing to fund. While it seems easier to just build a robot, shoot it into space and ask it to send you information, I find that it is difficult to predict the unexpected.To build a robot that will do what we want it to do is not the problem, it is needing that robot to figure out how to do something we did not originally design it to do. We have not yet perfected true AI (we are far off from even Artificial General Intelligence which would still not have the instinct and ingenuity of a human)2, so our best option at this point is affordable space flight. Humans are able to process the incoming information and make a split second decision, as well as act on instinct. The people who would be chosen for these missions would be very intelligent and able to alter a mission parameter if they encounter something that was not originally accounted for. If humans were on site they would be able to reprogram or repurpose the robots to fit the new mold of the mission. In which case it reaffirms my statement: ideally robots and humans work together. Historically, explorers make use of what they have and if they do not have what they need, they search and build or design what they need. Now we are in the age where we can reprogram and alter machinery to do these things for us. And because we have not yet made significant advancements to more efficiently communicate with the robots beyond the moon, it makes more sense to have people on site. A robot can communicate with a human that is within a closer range, like on planet or in orbit, much quicker than it can with a human on another planet. Currently, it can take up to 15 minutes to communicate with the Mars rovers–what happens if there is some sort of emergency, or a mechanical issue?3 And while on the topic of the Mars rovers, they have not really covered any significant ground (in the literal sense) in all the time that they have been up there. Humans are able to move faster and more efficiently–both in terms of ground covered and reaction to events, whereas robots are better at probing, calculating, and analyzing. Putting these two ideas together creates an ideal explorer for the final frontier. While thinking about space as the final frontier, we do not always know what is out there. There may be objects we have yet to encounter that we cannot see or do not know how to properly navigate. Sending probes for preliminary exploration is a good initial step, but to truly expand outward we have to send people. An argument for fully robotic missions may be that in initiating these missions, we are cutting out the chance that there could be loss of human life. And yes that is true, but there are always people out there who are vying for the chance of a lifetime to be a part of something so extraordinary. Also, while we now know that Columbus and Magellan never ‘discovered’ new places as they were already inhabited, in terms of what Europe had seen and traveled up until that point, they were going in mostly blind. Columbus had no idea what he would find going west, he knew what he wanted to find but not what was along the way, and he went anyway. Then Magellan continued by going around South America and travelling through places that were previously unknown to him and his crewmates. All we need is for someone to take the first step.Elon Musk has done a great job in the private sector of bringing the tangibility of space to the people. This opens up a dialogue to potentially being able to send people into space on a more public platform, but it also has people talking about wanting to go farther. Musk’s vision is to put people on Mars1–and he is not the only one. There are many qualified people who want to work together to achieve this dream. And Mars is only the beginning, from there we can only move outward. There is currently no excitement from the community (at least not like there was for the Apollo missions) for space exploration, especially since the science behind it does not seem to have gotten much more advanced. However, just recently, SpaceX launched their Falcon 9 (in December) that returned its first stage booster upright and it got people talking. SpaceX is currently contracted by NASA to take supplies up to the International Space Station, and because of this upright rocket, they are branching into reusable technology for some of rocket parts which saves time and money.4 With this amount of forward advancement in just the decade and a half since SpaceX was founded, the probability that we could send humans safely in and out of orbit by landing upright sooner rather than later is increasing. There are many things that humans can do that robots cannot and vice versa. Which is why I support the idea that they should be working together rather than one working more than the other. When we put all of our eggs in one basket so to speak, we are nullifying the help and support that we can get from either entity where they can work together and help each other be the strongest and most efficient versions of each other.

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