During the 2008 Presidential campaign, an Obama education advisor named Steve Robinson got himself into hot water by suggesting that Americans, especially the younger generation, are no longer inspired by sending humans into space. According to Robinson, young people are more inspired by sending robots into space than sending humans. CNN journalist Miles O’Brien, who was moderating the debate where Robinson appeared, seemed to disagree with him.

The Obama campaign did not stand by those statements, which were later disavowed, but we’ve heard the same argument repeated many times, by various people. Recently, Professor Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University (probably not a member of the “younger generation”) wrote that he found sending robots more exciting.

In our view, this debate is meaningless. Miles O’Brien asked the wrong question.

It doesn’t matter whether people are excited and inspired by sending humans into space. Very few people are excited and inspired by the idea of sending humans to Paris, Hawaii, or China – but lots of people are excited about going to Paris, Hawaii, or China.

People are not excited when a government employee, who they’ve never met, goes on a business trip to an exotic location. They are excited when they go on a trip to an exotic location.

For 50 years, government space programs have been telling the public that space exploration is important, without ever giving the public the chance to explore space. That is about to change. When it does, there will be no lack of excitement and inspiration.

Written by Astro1 on October 19th, 2012 , Citizen Exploration

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    Keith Henson commented

    Solid reasoning here.

    The L5 Society was made up mostly of people who wanted to go and figured there was some chance of doing so. When that finally died out, so did the Society.

    Now, due to laser propulsion offering dramatically reduced cost for getting into space, people again have the hope that they could actually go into space.

    Keith Henson
    PS, if you want details, ask.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:55 am