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  • Robotic and human space exploration in the future

    Paper number



    Mr. Tamas Haidegger, Hungary



    For many centuries exploration missions have been undertaken by human adventurers seeking for new territories, pushing their limits. In the past three decades extreme environment exploration has radically changed due to the emergence of robotic technology. The professional community has been arguing about the rational behind maintaining the human space program, due to the high costs, extreme risk and modest scientific results the Space Shuttle missions and the International Space Station delivered.
    Presently, voices calling for solely robotic missions are weakening mainly due to the fact that the international atmosphere of space research has changed. NASA stated that the primary reason behind US human space exploration is not science; rather the USA wants to maintain its international leadership in the field. A second space-race is forming, mainly driven by national pride of the developing space powers to prove their capabilities. 
    The aim of the paper is to introduce the upcoming unmanned space exploration scenarios that are already feasible with present day robotic technology and to show their human- driven alternatives. Astronauts are to conquer Mars in the foreseeable future, but robots could go a lot further already. Human space exploration was given a new boost by targeting again the Moon and the Mars. China, India and Russia all announced their ambitious plans to put their astronauts on orbit and beyond in the next three decades. Human exploration beyond the Moon means new technological challenges, especially considering the life-support systems. The fact that crew safety must be prioritized over equipment safety may put scientific results into danger. Another drawback is that human accessibility to worksite and interfaces have to be ensured, and the physical space requirement of the supplies exceeds the capacity of the spacecrafts. The long-distance missions give many health risks and technological concerns; discussed in the paper. The definite need for human operators in a remote environment is not proved, as telepresence technologies have developed significantly, and may provide the same scientific outcome.   
    Future mission design planning must deal with both the technological and political aspects of space. Compromising on the scientific outcome may pay well by taking advantage of public awareness and national and global interests. Many robotic and mixed missions are scheduled in different corners of the word, and the successful ones may determine the future of entire programs, urging for the reassessment of resources. 
    Abstract document


    Manuscript document