Robert Zubrin has asked, how much is an astronaut’s life worth? The answer according to NASA turns out to be about 5 billion dollars. That was the justification for deciding not perform some repairs on the Hubble that would extend it’s life for another 10 years or so.
To clarify – the Hubble cost 5 billion dollars. The total price of all the training and other investment that NASA and the US government have put into the 7 person crew that could repair it, was around 67 million. But they were worried that the astronauts would be lost, and so it wasn’t worth it
In the comments on Hacker News, people point out that NASA is a political agency, and if they go around blowing up astronauts all the time, they will become very unpopular. That makes sense.
Fortunately, measuring human life in dollars is what massive corporations are best at.
We have to get business into space. People who are against space travel frequently say that there is no scientific value to be gained from putting humans into space. As if that ends the discussion, or something. The whole point of science, though, is to benefit humans. EIther by satisfying our curiosity, or more important, by improving our lives.
Going into space for the sake of science is ridiculous. It’s the other way around: science is for getting us into space.
Space is for making money. No, that’s wrong. Space is for doing whatever you want! 12 miles offshore is international waters – no government can convict you out there. Space is like international waters, but with better weather, no seasickness, no pollution, no gravity, unlimited free solar power, and an entire universe full of resources, so long as you’re the first to get to them.
Yes, you could make money. You could also make unsafe rocketships and fly them very, very fast. You could start your own nation based on your theory that money is evil and trade should be based on makeout skills. Whatever you want. Space is opportunity.