Are manned missions a waste of space?





AFP - On Tuesday, the world will be awash with talk of courage and vision as it looks back on 50 years of manned space flight, a trail blazed by Yuri Gagarin's 108-minute trip around the planet.

But what if the past half-century has been just a cosmic waste of money?

Presidents and space agencies insist manned missions will always be at the heart of their space programmes.

An astronaut not only embodies the human quest to explore, they argue. He or she can also act on tuition and think swiftly and creatively in ways impossible for a machine.

Dissidents dismiss this as a craving for prestige, or lobbying by the space industry or astronauts themselves.

Manned space flight, they contend, has sapped funds for robot probes and satellites that unlock more knowledge and practical advantages at a lower price -- and put no-one's life at risk....



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