First off, I understand a lot of people out there are lamens when it comes to the sciences, and in particular computers, and robotics. The NASA program uses what’s called 80386s and 80486s for their processors. This is very old school, and probably before a lot of these ignoramuses that spout this horse shit nonesense even touched a computer. To break it down, they where CISC processors that ran at 25 megahertz. If you overclocked them you could squeeze out 50 megahertz. To put that in perspective, the modern Pentium class from Intel that you have in your computer, the same pioneer of the 80486, runs at 2000+ megahertz. This does not include the possibility for overclocking, and the advent of faster pipelines on the motherboard, increased ram capabilities, better instruction sets, and so on, so forth. Why then do they use outdated architecture? The reason is, the solar winds, and cosmic interference is great in outer orbit. Faster processors achieve such by using smaller transistors. The smaller the transistor, the greater the susceptibility to electromagnetic interference. When you are dealing with billions on billions of vital calculations, all broken down into 8 individuals bits in bytes (e.g.: 00101101 = 45 [assuming you are not using debian binary, I believe it was called. long outdated now]) there is a great amount of importance placed on these values being correct. To the degree of errors that might arise from the interference, would be unacceptable in a normal no risk environment work place, let alone in a high-risk environment, such as the precarious environment of outer orbit.
How then does this apply to robots replacing humans? Ok, imagine trying to construct a robot that is able to manage and replace a fully functioning, adaptable, and independent minded human, on 25 megahertz of processing power. I run virtual reality, and crude AI simulations on a 100-megahertz Pentium 1 class Linux box, and that drags when I'm running something that is made of tens of thousands of lines of code. To put things in perspective, Linux the OS, is about 5 million lines of code, and the currect iterrations of the Windows OS is tens of millions of lines of code (I can not remember if they have broken 100 million lines yet.). For greater tasks, I have to migrate it on my network to a dual processor machine of considerable greater, more modern strength. And this is for mere prototype testing of private research, and hobbies, as oppossed hundreds of millions of lines of code. Now, on one hand you could argue that the robot could be designed to only do a similar task, and just do it slowly. If this were a feasible option, high-risk chemical and nuclear research would already be replaced with machines and robots here on earth, rather then humans. The reaction speeds of modern robots are not capable of being able to handle such tasks. Then there is the advent of having so primitive an intelligence means that they would not be able to adapt to a situation if something went wrong. What if due to interference, or external unforeseen problems caused an experiment to go awry, or be mismanaged by said robot. The robot wont be able to adapt properly, or correct the situation. The Sony Aibos are a good example of modern robots, displaying the AI comparable to a maybe a dashing two or three your old. Some of the better AI's have a few years on then in intellectual capabilities, and intendment adaptation. What about remote control then? The interference, and speeds exemplified by the pitiful attempts for Dish styled networking is a great example (for those of you who have had to troubleshoot that with people). For those of you that use Dish, or other satellite based networking, for TV or Internet, will know of the problems, such as the TV connection having temporarily static, due to interference. Even more simple 802.11 networks ranging such mighty distances as a block, are sketchy. This is even more so tricky with direction long range networking to a robot on a mobile spacecraft outside orbit, even utilizing the satellite as a bridge. What about the mars robots thought, right? The Mars project robots are different for two reasons. One, they are being used on a planet, not in space, and thus less susceptible to interferance common of outer orbit. Two, they are doing specific collection and reconnaissance projects, not complex physics and chemistry projects. Oh, and then there is of course, the biological studies, requiring studies of affects on the human body of cancers, chemicals, etc, which cant be simulated on robots. So, for all of you technically ill formed, who buy into nonsensical propaganda about robots in space, you are nothing short of pitiful.
Now, as for NASA and space research being a waste of money. Our weather report is a product of NASA research. So is your Cell phone. And the satellites we use for your DISH networks, your mobile Satellite internet connections, your CNN and Cable TV updates, Cancer research, a great deal of physics studies, and practical exploration of the universe, both here and above. Also, the satellites we use for home security and safety of the nation. Many metals, and design information used for are sciences of the larger planes you fly on. Honestly, the list goes on, and on. A great deal of innovations is directly related, and can be attributed to the NASA program. Not to mention, it is an important direction, as far as it being the future direction of both mankind, and science. So if you don’t like NASA research, then you hypocritical money hounds should revoke, and reject all things science has given you lamens in the first place.
Lastly, these people that go into space are not random personal picked up off the street. NASA doesn’t take out help wanted adds in the Sunday paper. These are people at the top of their class, people who were heroes of the military, trained and intelligent in various areas, such as sciences, chemistry, physics, and so on. They are at the height of their career, and stepping onboard a place strapped to thousands of tons of Borromin, and other combustible materials, in a field plagued by danger far more then most, to attempt to peruse science in the effort to improve life, and find answers, and discover new things, in the same passion Columbus, or the Vikings discovered America, or the same way that medical cures have been historically been found, such as potential risk to exposure (or purposeful exposure) to diseases so as to better monitor and solve ways to cure them. This drive to pursue the achievement of Man and Science, even in the face of danger, and in this case death almost certainly if things go awry, in a hostile environment, is heroic (Anyone who does not consider breaching and returning the heated atmosphere by way of thousands of tons of explosives, to explore a hazardous vacuum needs to reconsider their perceptions of hostile.) So, established that they are in fact heroic, this also is in part why we mourn them more then say, the four soldiers that died in Afghanistan last week, or the thousands that die everyday from various accidents, and crime. Their risky contribution to mankind as a whole, and the importance of what they represent as achievement of the human race, and science is paramount, and their achievement as men and women, individuals at the height of their lives, and careers, who willingly risk it all to ante it up further, nothing short of admirable, and honorable, in the way many of us can only strive to hope to be.
Personally, I feel strongly about this, and the ignorance displayed by the people about this subject, is ignorant propaganda. Thos who think or doubt for one moment the value and risk of the space program in my mind go beyond merely a lack of morality and sense of decency, but also turn their backs on logic, and science to such a degree, they have no right to dare seek to cling, hide, or use such things without a sense of hypocrisy and guilt looming over their fool hearted heads. Obviously, It would seem if some can not make educated decisions for themselves, they need to step aside and leave the sciences to the scientists, and return their to nonsensical television, and media hype, and stop wasting valuable time of people hoping to do something with their lives.