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Related topics. Subscribe today. Human beings will have to adapt into extremophiles in order to live on the Moon or Mars. That's a fascinating statement because it goes against the entrenched idea that it was Apollo which formed the core of the American space program. Prelinger : As soon as satellite launch technology was proven, many countries and many companies wanted to have a presence in the satellite sky.

Competition was swift and multilateral. So it remained a simple binary for a long time. But the satellite sky was and is a much more accessible forum for crowding and competition. Apollo may have been the public face of the American space program, but we have always had a lot more going on with robotics than with human spaceflight. From a structural and functional perspective, satellites are the core of the American space program. Have been since Maybe they throw Hubble in there. But you recover a huge chunk of space history where the moon shot was by no means assured and where human spaceflight seems as if it could have gone many places.

Maybe not just or never to the moon. You make the argument that Apollo caused a kind of public amnesia about the competing alternative space programs that might have been. Can you describe the criticisms of and alternatives to Apollo in the scientific community and the media? Prelinger : The criticisms of Apollo were comparable to the criticisms of human spaceflight today.

The criticisms are based on a schism between space for science, by scientists, and space for exploration, by explorers. It is true now as it was then that robotic spaceflight is vastly less expensive and technologically difficult, and yields tangible scientific rewards.

Scientists mocked the Apollo program because the life support system had to dominate the payload of the spacecraft to such an extent that only a few pounds of scientific equipment — sensors and sample collectors — could be included. That schism still exists, though within NASA great steps have been taken to resolve it as an internal contradiction.

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Ambitious non-Apollo plans that were regrettably un-funded included a plan for a multi-planet flyby by a space probe in the s. Hey look, this idea has a wiki entry: Planetary Grand Tour.


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  7. Some people think that the emphasis on human spaceflight overshadowed what could have been public and political support for this Grand Tour. Other people think that it would have been canceled in the s anyway, just because of the economic contraction. For the same reasons Apollo was canceled.

    It seems to me that the criticisms of the manned spaceflight program were pretty robust, the Apollo landing notwithstanding. What do you think the best argument for human spaceflight is? And do you think we should be attempting to send humans into space now? Prelinger : I am a supporter of human spaceflight. I want to see it happen, and I will do what I can to promote it as a cultural enterprise. But it needs to be re-framed as a cultural enterprise. Our human spaceflight program was a civil public institution.

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    Its primary functions were symbolic, inspirational, and cultural. It was a positive, non-destructive expression of technological upsmanship.

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    It was a positive, non-destructive expression of the human impulse to continuously expand our sense of territoriality. Its most important job was to inspire young people to see themselves as junior members of an advanced, highly-accomplished society, and to identify positively and peacefully with technology. In its early years, that effect was worldwide. Space exploration has the potential to transcend nationalism. That being said, the Apollo program in particular was an artifact of a major post-war economic and technological surplus.

    We no longer have that surplus, we have spent it. I have to agree on a practical level with the cancellation of the Constellation programs. I see public-private partnerships as the way of the future. On the one hand, I hate to see it lost as a public, democratic institution. On the other hand, the expense and the risk are utterly enormous.

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    It seems more appropriate to me for private companies to take the risk and make the expense, rather than our heavily stressed taxpayer base. Do you think the lack of a program of record now that NASA has effectively cancelled Constellation will re-open people's minds and allow them to imagine new paths for NASA? The outbreak spurred a massive response by researchers around the world to develop effective therapeutics and a protective vaccine. As we embark upon our third full year here at the journal, we can now indeed celebrate the success of an Ebola vaccine which appears to be completely protective in humans.

    In a trial published in December in The Lancet , this recombinant respiratory syncytial virus rRSV -based vaccine was administered to more than people in Guinea, all of whom were protected from disease. We praise the large-scale collaborative effort of both clinical and basic science researchers which has brought us closer to preventing further Ebola outbreaks.

    Moving forward in , we hope a similar mobilization of efforts will lead us towards better diagnostic and therapeutic options for patients affected by Zika virus.

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    Although quite different from Ebola virus in its clinical presentation, this emergent and wide-spread public health threat will require the same degree of scientific collaboration across basic and clinical disciplines. While it will be some time before we hear results, our fingers are tightly crossed that we will see the dial move even further upward for efficacy in preventing new HIV infections. New advances with checkpoint inhibitors and chimeric antigen receptor CAR -T cell based therapies have of course dominated many cancer therapy-based headlines over the past year.

    In we expect many more great ideas to develop further within this explosive area of therapeutic research—such as defining new cancer antigens to target, improving safety, and exploring combination therapies. These tests look at sequences of DNA fragments from lysed cancer cells that are present in the blood of affected patients. If specific cancer-associated gene mutations are found, this information can help clinicians make better, tailor-made, treatment decisions.