How Much Is an Astronaut’s Life Worth?

If we could put a man on the Moon, why can’t we put a man on the Moon?

Starting with near zero space capability in 1961, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) put men on our companion world in eight years. Yet despite vastly superior technology and hundreds of billions of dollars in subsequent spending, the agency has been unable to send anyone else farther than low Earth orbit ever since. 

Why? Because we insist that our astronauts be as safe as possible.

From an article in Reason Magazine.

To NASA: it’s “To boldly go,” and, you’re doing it wrong. To add another Kirk quote, “There are certain things men must do to remain men.” And NASA, you’re not doing them. 

I’m not sure what odds I would accept if I were going on a Mars mission. I’m pretty sure I’d take a .1% chance of failure/death. But I’m certain there are people out there who would accept much greater risk than that, and as the article says, we’re committing statistical murder, as well as shortchanging the human race, by not letting those people take their shot at glory. 

There was a time when NASA understood that in order to achieve the mission you mitigate risk rather than running away from it. Many years will pass before going to space is as safe as going to New York, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go.


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