By Barbara Warmbein; European Space Agency
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Extra resources for A case for humans in space : the European astronauts
Husband, Laurel B. Clark and Ilan Ramon. On 1 February 2003, the seven crewmembers were lost with the Space Shuttle Columbia. This picture was on a roll of unprocessed film recovered from the debris. (NASA) the missions centered around the Hubble Space Telescope. Its undisputed success, resulting in an ever better understanding of our Universe, would not have been possible without the respective service and repair missions carried out by the astronauts (including Claude Nicollier and Jean-François Clervoy from ESA).
In view of our European history I believe that the fascination of exploring the unknown across all borders – and the acknowledgement of our active role in this process – is still undiminished. People understand that the benefits coming from human spaceflight extend beyond pure utilitarian objectives. In my opinion no other activity is more suitable to foster the generation of a European identity. Europe’s evolotion towards the world’s biggest knowledge-based society is a fascinating goal which deserves not only full support from political leaders but from all European citizens.
However, even though these probes will continue to precede humans in the future, they will never be able to replace us. It is the combination of cognitive, sensory and motor skills, attributes like creativity and intuition, that determine our unique capabilities and distinguish us from machines. Based on my own experience during the Euromir-95 mission to the Russian Space Station Mir, I can declare that no computer, no robot or any other automatic device would have been able to deal with the technical problems that arose from time to time.
A case for humans in space : the European astronauts by Barbara Warmbein; European Space Agency