Michael D. Griffin, the new NASA administrator, says he wants to have a next-generation space shuttle ready by 2010. (WaPo)
Manned space travel is a huge waste of money. Since 1972, the date of the last manned moon mission, we have accomplished absolutely nothing except putting men into low orbit again and again for no purpose but at extraordinary cost and risk to their lives.
The people making up this policy have been watching too much Star Trek. People need to wake up and realize how pointless it all is.
If we need to have a human in space, it can be done virtually by building a robot that’s controlled by a human on the ground. (See Michael Higgins’ post on human controlled robots.) I’m sure that such a robot could be developed for a lot less money than a next-generation space shuttle. It also might create some new technologies that have practical use on Earth.
Unfortunately, the status quo of manned space travel has such huge inertia that I don’t see the policy changing soon. But neither do I give much of a chance for this 2010 date to happen. Since 1981 (the first Space Shuttle orbit), NASA has been a complete disaster when it comes to big projects.