Space Program Term Paper

Pages: 6 (2217 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Astronomy

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] It cannot, however, be denied that nearly all of these achievements could have been accomplished at a fraction of the cost that was spent on "manned" flights into space if the policy objectives had been to scientific benefits only.

Supporters of "manned" flights, on the other hand, argue that the human dexterity and ingenuity cannot be matched by robots. For example, the Soviets brought back samples of the moon's surface through cheaply-built unmanned "Luna" spacecrafts in the 1970s. Astronauts of the Apollo missions did the same. The difference is that geologically trained astronauts were able to select the most representative, interesting, and/or exotic samples while the Luna samples were scooped up at random by the robotic probes. (Spudis) Other tasks and field experiments carried out by trained astronauts cannot be performed otherwise; hence manned space missions are not without their benefits. Nevertheless, the fact that as soon as the Soviet Union was decisively beaten by the Americans in the race to the moon, and later, when the Cold War became less intense, budgets for space programs were sharply reduced indicate that the main reason behind the launching of enormously expensive space programs by both United States and the Soviet Union were political decisions aimed at upstaging one another. (The desire to "upstage" one another was so pronounced that just three days before the Apollo 11 left on its historic mission to the moon on July 16, 1969, USSR launched the Luna 15 robot probe on a mission to scoop a sample of Moon dirt and return it to Earth ahead of the Apollo 11 mission. The plan to steal the Apollo's thunder failed when the Luna spacecraft crashed on the moon's surface.) That the space programs brought a number of benefits in their wake is, therefore, largely incidental.

The Future of Space Programs

Predicting the future of space exploration is about as hazardous as speculating about the future behavior of the stock market. The reasons are similar: there are just too many variables involved in both. The future of space exploration is dependent on how technology evolves in the years to come; it depends on how political forces shape rivalries and whether international co-operation between nations becomes more meaningful in the future. International co-operation is particularly important for endeavors such as space exploration because the cost involved is so high that one country alone cannot be expected to bear it. The shape of things to come would also depend on how important the public feels space exploration is. Other predictions about space exploration can be made with more certainty: At least in the near future, spaceflight in Earth orbit would be manned but probes within the solar system would be un-piloted. Any flight to other solar systems seems unlikely at present barring an unexpected quantum leap in space technology. (Chaikan)

Works Cited

Chaikan, Andrew. "Space Exploration." Article in Encyclopedia Encarta, 2003

Ezell, Clinton E. And Linda Neuman Ezell. "The Partnership: A History of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project." NASA Special Publication-4209,1978 Chapter 1: The Space Race Competition vs. Cooperation: 1959-1962. April 21, 2004 http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4209/ch1-4.htm

History of the Space Programme." Scenta Website. March 16, 2004. April 21, 2004. http://www.scenta.co.uk/news/viewFeature.cfm?ciid=207&iCurrSubSection=2

Koman, Rita G. "Man on the Moon: The U.S. Space Program as a Cold War Maneuver." Organization of American Historians. Reprinted from the OAH Magazine of History

8 (Winter 1994). April 21, 2004. http://www.oah.org/pubs/magazine/coldwar/koman.html

Levine, Alan J. "The Missile and Space Race." Westport, CT: Praeger,1994

Spudis, Paul D. "Humans Should Explore Space." Part of Scientific American Debate on Who Should Explore Space? Robots vs. Humans. April 18, 1999. Reproduced in Encyclopedia Encarta, CD ROM Version, 2003

Rockets are the key to launching objects into outer space as they provide the necessary thrust for the space ship to break free of the earth's gravitational force

The developer of the 200-mile range V-2 rockets that were used to bomb British cities by Hitler during the War.

The so-called "missile gap" was more of a forecast or prediction, rather a statement about the current balance of power between the two super powers (Levine 58) the failed attempt by Cuban exiles, with CIA's blessings, to invade Cuba and overthrow Fidel Castro

Space Program [END OF PREVIEW]

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