The Soviets never sent a man to the moon, even though they could easily have done so. Why? Because they knew there is nothing to be gained by doing so. The US space program was a large propaganda campaign, a triumph of politics and marketing, not of science and engineering. It was an act of fear and paranoia by a society that not too long ago was burning "witches". Nobody goes to the moon today, yet we all benefit from hundreds of satellites, the real-world non-sensational technology pioneered by the Soviets.
Many tout the technologies which originated in the space program, and which went on to benefit society. What they fail to realize is that if the money spent on the wasteful space program had instead been spent on solving the relevant problems, we would now have better solutions to more problems. The space program was targeted towards a one-of-a-kind critical mission, meaning that all environmental concerns were put aside, the thinking being that this would only be done occasionally and so the minor resulting use of highly toxic chemicals and processes would not be a problem. The result is that all of us now use, or are exposed to, toxic epoxies, paints, cleaners, and other chemicals which cause neural, kidney, liver, and reproductive damage, as well as being carcinogens and allergen sensitizers. These harmful technologies have not become entrenched, meaning that it is next to impossible to break away from them.
Mars is best explored by robots, since they are light, small, durable, immune to cold and radiation, don't need life support systems, and don't have to be brought back to earth! Yet the politicians, false scientists, and brainless sensationalists have once again embarked on steering the clueless public in to funding a truly inappropriate "science project".
There is a lot of hue and cry over the loss of jobs from the closure of the Space Shuttle program. But considering the fact that the responsibilities of the Space Shuttle Program to ferry humans to LEO is now being given to the private sector and companies like SpaceX it only means that the jobs are going from NASA to SpaceX.
I think the handing over of responsibilities of LEO journeys to the private sector can be made so that the loss of jobs in NASA can be now absorbed in the private sector. Any reasons why this cant be done ?
And by doing this NASA can focus on Space Exploration and Research the way it was meant to be initially.
Drones are, in essence, flying autonomous vehicles. Pros and cons surrounding drones today might well foreshadow the debate over the development of self-driving cars. In the context of a strongly regulated aviation industry, "self-flying" drones pose a fresh challenge. How safe is it to fly drones in different environments? Should drones be required for visual line of sight – as are piloted airplanes? Join EE Times' Junko Yoshida as she moderates a panel of drone experts.