I can’t remember if I wrote this before but I’m against the space shuttle. Not against space exploration in general, but pretty much against manned space missions. There’s just no real justification for it. I think people before were saying how people against the shuttle ignore the side scientific benefits we get from it. That somehow the research trickles down to help society in general. I don’t buy that. Frosh year of high school I did Oxford debate and the national topic was on space exploration. Anyway, when we did our research we basically found out that essentially nothing of value has really come from space research. At best (and even this is highly arguable), there are things that have been inspired by space research. But any scientific advances came from work independent of the space program and would have been much more cost effective were it completely independent.
I dunno if I’m articulating myself clearly. But yeah, the scientific benefit trickle down theory is basically wishful thinking. I’m more than willing to be wrong on this. Just give me the research. At the time, there just wasn’t any real basis for this belief. Hmm, Straight Dope seems to suggest the same. But anyway.
So yeah, given the enormous cost (in dollars) and risk (in human lives) of the shuttle, I don’t think it’s worth it. Especially if the benefit is based more on wishful thinking than documented advances. So I’m all about unmanned missions. I still believe in basic research, and unmanned projects would both cost less and be less risky. I dunno, just my thoughts.