Forty years after man first set foot on the surface of a celestial body other than the Earth, the debate over the opportunity of sending humans into space remains topical. The place that humans currently occupy in space exploration and conquest is perhaps changing compared with what it has been until now. This change is both qualitative and quantitative. It is qualitative in that pioneering spirit is no longer what it was. Astronauts, cosmonauts and taikonauts continue to recruit from among the top aviation pilots although they are gradually being joined in space by engineers, scientists and doctors. The “right stuff” has certainly not disappeared but its makeup has altered. Without becoming banal, space has become humanised, if only due to the influence of women. Without doubt, when exploration of the planet Mars by a team of humans (when? no one today is bold enough to set a specific date), is no longer a dream but is actually being implemented and planned, will this “stuff” once again find its initial splendour, reminding us of the days of Gagarin, Glenn, Armstrong or Aldrin? However, between now and then, a quantitative change will probably have occurred, with a significant increase in the number of astronauts. The completion of the construction of the international space station in circumterrestrial orbit and its occupation has already played a part. What is to stop the development, even small-scale, of space tourism? For all that, however common the presence of humans in space might become, the questions “how” and “why” will continue to be asked.
KeywordsInternational Space Station Launch Vehicle Crew Member Solar Eruption Apollo Mission
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