Human factors in the Space industry Essay
Human factors in the Space industry
Abstract The world is in transition from Information Age to Space Age. This can be assumed by observing trends particularly those initiated by developed countries such as the US, Russia, China, Japan and the members of the European Union. The robots are programmed to be more precise in its actions compared to humans but with the humans’ capability to judge and make decisions according to unexpected circumstances, the latter are still considered a better option for space explorations.
This necessitates the study for Human Factors. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the Human Factors that are associated with the Space Industry. such knowledge would give the reader an idea on the Human limitations that must be considered and which could be very critical in space explorations. Without proper consideration, space explorations would be unsuccessful and the transition to Space Age would never ascend from the state of being imaginary, to reality.
Consideration of Human Factors Towards the Space Age Humanity is now in the so-called Information age when time is fast-paced and access to information can be as fast, easy and unlimited as the trend for telecommunication and global integration continue to show prospects of expansion. The prospects of expansion, however, is not limited to the “global”. Current research shows that the trend is gradually opening its way to the rudiments of transition from the Information age to the Space age.
Developed countries such as the US, Russia, Japan, China, India, the members of the EU and its industries are starting to involve themselves with the space and satellite industry, spending significant amounts of their budgets to further research, interest and opportunities for the said industry (Partners in Space, 2005). According to the Sacknoff in the 2005 Report on the State of the Space Industry by the International Space Business Council, there had been a total of $103 billion turnover from commercial and government services and programs in 2004.
This turnover is expected to increase to at least $158 billion in 2010. Meanwhile, the US Defense has increased its spending for Space-related investments from $15 billion in 2000 to $22 billion in 2005. It is expected to further increase to at least $28 billion in 2010. There has also been a continuous increase in the market for satellite service particularly that of GPS positioning and tracking which could lead to the development of space tourism. According to NASDAQ, the space industry is currently one of the most innovative growth sectors in the world today (Sacknoff, 2005).
At present, the US President, George W. Bush has made a proclamation about his “New Space” vision that could be a challenging turning point for the space industry. The aim of this vision is to be able to return to the moon by the end of the decade and to be able to fly to Mars immediately in the following decade (President Bush Announces New Vision for Space Exploration Program, 2004). Robots vs. Humans However, in order to become successful in such endeavors, the departments in charge of the development must recognize and consider certain factors that are critical to the future of the industry.
There is a huge debate on whether there is a need to send humans in space, when there would always be robots to take their place. Those for robots argue that it would limit the risks of “needless human sacrifices” in case unexpected circumstances arise. However, the NASA argues that while in fact, robots are very useful in space explorations and gathering research data, the needed knowledge about space would never be near complete without human’s ingenuity and physical experience (The Human Advantage, 2003).
Applied to the current objective of the “New Space” vision as well as the objectives of the previous explorations, there are still a lot of things that even robots, and only humans, with their minds, can do. Robots, for example cannot deal with unexpected things while humans can think of creative ways to solve unexpected problems such as equipment breakdown (The Human Advantage, 2003).
Installations, upgrades and detailed work in space can only be done with the finesse of human operators. While it can be tested by robots, prospects such as possible life in other planets can only be guaranteed by human exploration.