Will space exploration ultimately use robots or humans? NASA predicts a 300-pound humanoid robot that they’re building for the International Space Station will help open up the solar system, “and will allow us to go farther and achieve more than we can probably even imagine today,” while the U.S. Air Force also plans to launch its first robotic X-37B space plane. One science reporter even suggests a brain implant linking us to robots, “greatly reducing communication time across the vast expanse of space,” using though-controlled communication, for example with lasers.
But President Obama has announced human astronauts will still continue to be transported into space using commercial contractors after the space shuttle’s retirement. “Interestingly, President Obama indicated that his ultimate goal is to build a virtually indefinite human presence in space with the United States at the lead,” says Justin Kugler, who works in NASA’s ISS National Laboratory Office. “He set milestones of…manned long-duration missions beyond Low Earth Orbit (perhaps to an asteroid) by 2025, and manned missions to Mars orbit in the 2030s.”
But it works the other way, too. SETI scientist Paul Davies suggests any aliens exploring the universe will be machine hybrids, which are better able to endure extended exposure to space – and will surely outstrip our limited human biological intelligence!