The Instigator
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points
The Contender
BennyW
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

NASA is better at space exploration than Virgin Galactic

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/29/2011 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,159 times Debate No: 17697
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (16)
Votes (2)

 

F-16_Fighting_Falcon

Pro

I am arguing that NASA is better at space exploration than Virgin Galactic. I am leaving "better" open to interpretation so we can point out efficiency, safety, productivity, usefulness etc.
1st Round is for acceptance. 2nd for opening arguments. 3rd for rebuttals. 4th for defending your arguments against the rebuttals and closing, no new points. Let me know if you are interested.
BennyW

Con

I thank my opponent for issuing this debate accept the debate terms.
Debate Round No. 1
F-16_Fighting_Falcon

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting and wish him the best of luck. Here is why I believe NASA is better at space exploration than Virgin Galactic: I will be arguing four main points: Human Spaceflight achievements, Robotic Probe Achievements, astronaut safety, and the failure of space tourism.

1) Achievements of Human Spaceflight programs
NASA had 4 major orbital human spaceflight programs: Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and the Space Shuttle. Each had its own major achievements.

(a) Mercury put a man in space when John Glenn became the first American to be in the Earth's orbit for approximately about an hour and a half.[1]

(b) Gemini conducted the first human spacewalk and various other experiments which would be necessary during the Apollo missions to land on the moon.[2]

(c) Apollo landed people on the moon. It has been described by NASA as "the single greatest technological ahcivement of all time" [3]. It has never been replicated by any other public or private entity.

(d) The Space Shuttle program has been a reliable and comfortable way of getting NASA astronauts to the Internation Space Station.[4]

Virgin Galactic does not have a reliable means of travelling to the ISS and back, it never conducted a spacewalk and it has never landed on the moon. So, right away, NASA wins on points (b), (c), and (d). As for point (a) which is orbital spaceflight, Virgin Galactic did not do anything in 2004 that NASA hadn't already done before in 1962. NASA beat Virgin Galctic by over 40 years.

2) Unmanned Space Exploration of different planets
(a) Spirit and Opportunity (Mars)
The Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity successfully landed on Mars and sent over 124,000 highly detailed images of Mars.[5] This was a big step to further the exploration of Mars for eventual human missions.

(b) Magellann (Venus)
The Magellan mission studied land forms and tectonics, impact processes, erosion, deposition, chemical processes, and model the interior of Venus.[6]

(c) Galileo (Jupiter)
Galileo changed the way we look at Jupiter as well as the Solar system. It discovered that Jupiters great red spots were storms, that Io has volcanoes and the Europa has a frozen ocean underneath the ice. It also shows that there is evidence that even Callisto might have an ocean.[7]

In the field of unmanned space exploration, private companies like Virgin Galactic are lacking. There have been no significant achievements which have contributed to a greater understanding of space. So, I conclude that the above listed achievements by NASA make it superior to Virgin Galactic in the absence of similar achievements.

3) Failure of Space Tourism
While one of Virgin Galactic's objectives were to take humans to space as Space Tourists, it hasn't really taken off. Tickets for a one week stay in space cost as much as $20 million [8] making them unaffordable for the masses as the average person would not earn that much in their lifetime. In fact, Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic said that the company would not put a definite timeline on when the commercial flights would begin.[9]

4) Safety of Astronauts
An explosion killed two engineers working for Virgin Galactic in the Mojave desert [10]. For a new company with only 17 orbital spaceflights, this a terrible safety record.


Sources
[1] http://www.nasa.gov...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://history.nasa.gov...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[5] http://www.nasa.gov...
[6] http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov...
[7] http://solarsystem.nasa.gov...
[8] http://science.howstuffworks.com...
[9] http://news.bbc.co.uk...
[10] http://www.timesonline.co.uk...
BennyW

Con

I thank my opponent for responding. As per the guidelines my opponent set out I will be presenting my arguments independent of the ones he has brought up and will address his arguments next round.
There are several reasons why Virgin Galactic is better than NASA:

1. Virgin Galactic is more cost efficient than NASA. It costs NASA 450 Million dollars to launch a shuttle. [1]
In comparison, Virgin Galactic costs $200,000 per passenger with six passengers for a total cost of $1,200,000 [2] [3]

2. All costs will be privately funded by the passengers themselves for Virgin rather than taxpayer funded as NASA is. Only those who voluntarily want to participate will pay as opposed to everyone else to support them.

3. Virgin is an international corporation that has plenty of money from other ventures to invest in the project. They have already made affordable low cost air travel with a number of amenities included so they have proved they can make something affordable and efficient that people use often. [4] So the space program is a more expensive but still efficient next step.

Thanks again to my opponent.

1 http://www.nasa.gov...
2 http://www.virgingalactic.com...
3 http://www.gatagat.com...
4. http://www.virginamerica.com...
Debate Round No. 2
F-16_Fighting_Falcon

Pro

I thank my opponent for the quick response. Here are my rebuttals to his arguments:

1) The cost given by my opponent for Virgin galactic is not the cost of the mission but rather, the price that 6 customers would pay to go to space. My opponent cannot say that Virgin Galactic is cost effective unless he can prove that the price of materials, labor etc is less than that of the Space Shuttle and he is welcome to do so in the next round if he wishes. The price that it takes to make the Space craft and launch it is completely different from the price that customers would pay to take a ride in it.

2) While it is true that Virgin Galactic's flights are privately funded as opposed to using taxpayer's money, the goal of private spaceflight is to make a profit for the company rather than scientific research that will benefit the community. So, having privately funded flight will not achieve the same goals that publicly funded flight will. Therefore, this does not show that Virgin Galactic is better for the taxpayers than NASA.

3) My opponent is arguing that Virgin Galactic has a proven track record with air travel. However, I counter that NASA has a proven track record with space travel thereby making it better suited for further space travel and exploration and superior to Virgin Galactic.

I look forward to my opponent's arguments.
BennyW

Con

I thank my opponent and would like to address his points.

Achievements of Human Spaceflight programs

It is true Virgin Galactic has not achieved the success in space programs that NASA has yet because they are just getting started, everything has to start somewhere. As I demonstrated in my argument they have in fact had success in other areas their air travel being the most relevant to this. As for it not being able to travel to the ISS, the question there is what is the point of the ISS. Have we made any real scientific progress resulting from it being there? As for NASA beating Virgin to everything, Russia beat America to (a) as well but do we claim that they are better than us?

Unmanned Space Exploration of different planets

Again you must consider time. Virgin has made innovations in other areas, that is how we can measure their success. Unmanned would be the way to go indeed as the risk is significantly less, and the Mars Rovers are probably NASA’s biggest success in recent years but the price tag is the biggest problem. However, just because Virgin Galactic has not attempted to send anything like that does not mean they would be in capable of doing so in the future.

Failure of Space Tourism

I have not seen the 20 million figure anywhere else, the official website even says otherwise. True even the listed price of 200,000 is unaffordable to most but even more so is the NASA’s price and besides, most people can’t afford a Yatch cruise either, does that mean it is something people will pay for? The fact is that those who go up are spending their own money so it is no loss to the rest of us. “The company would not put a definite timeline on when the commercial flights would begin.” NASA has had its fair share of delays, in fact the Shuttle program was originally to have ended last year and in fact was not meant to be in service for 30 years to begin with.

The Shuttle program has been seen by many as quite a failure do to the amount of waste and inefficiency. [1]

Safety of Astronauts

“An explosion killed two engineers working for Virgin Galactic in the Mojave desert.”

NASA has had two shuttles explode killing 16? People and has had various other mishaps. Also, Virgin is trying to hire experience astronauts for their program.

Virgin has plans for the future. [2] They plan to utilize their crafts for scientific experimentation as well. [3]

NASA has done some good for the scientific community but on a cost vs. benefit scale, they have really fallen short.

Thanks again.

1 http://www.guardian.co.uk...

2 http://news.discovery.com...

3 http://www.virgingalactic.com...

Debate Round No. 3
F-16_Fighting_Falcon

Pro

Thanks for the rebuttals. Here is my defense:

1) Human Spaceflight
Con says that the ISS provided no benefits. However, I can show that it provided many.

(a) The ISS allowed humans to live in space for the long term [2]. If we want to put a man on Mars, we must first learn what the effects of long term space travel are to humans.

(b) Nearly 150 experiments are currently running on the ISS, and more than 400 have been conducted since research began 9yrs ago. These experiments are leading to advances in the fight against food poisoning, new methods for delivering medicine to cancer cells and the development of more capable engines and materials for use on Earth [1], bone loss during extended time in microgravity, how to protect against radiation levels in space, different techniques for doing in-space soldering to repair equipment, and many other experiments, repairs, space walks and robotics innovations [2].

(c) NASA won the prestigious 2009 Collier Trophy for the ISS, the top award in aviation [1].

(d) US and Russia now collaborate instead of compete to advance space exploration.

While the ISS had numerous benefits, NASA also excelled at sending robotic probes to Mars, Jupiter, and outer space which my opponent doesn't disagree with.

"Russia beat America to (a) as well but do we claim that they are better than us?"

Of course, we don't claim that they are better than us, but the Russians definitely claimed that they were better when they put a man in space. When the US put a man on the moon, it was acknowledged all across the US that we had won the space race. When the Virgin group was founded in 1970, the technology to travel to space as well as the moon was already there but it took them till 2004 to even have an orbital flight. The main point here is that NASA developed the technology to go to the space and moon where as the technology was already perfected during Virgin Galactic's time and Virgin was merely following in someone else's footsteps.


2) Unmanned Exploration

My opponent argues that Virgin is just starting out and so it hasn't had any success with unmanned exploration of Mars. However, I say that NASA with its proven record of exploring all the planets in the solar system, putting men on the moon and conducting experiments on the ISS is far superior to, and emphatically beats a start-up company that is barely able to make suborbital and orbital flights and is nowhere near making space tourism possible.

3) Failure of Space Tourism
Regarding the figures, the 20 million is for a week in space. The 200,000 that my opponent mentioned is for a few minutes in space [3]. Either way, it can't be denied that space tourism is ridiculously expensive and unaffordable to most. My opponent says that NASA has fallen short on a cost benefit scale while at the same time defending Virgin's $200,000 price tag for just a few minutes in space with no scientific benefit.

While it is true that NASA costs more and is funded by taxpayer's dollars, it also does scientific research which benefits the community:

1) Medical: The infrared thermometer which eliminates the need for oral and rectal readings[4]. Other medical benefits includes heart pumps and physical fitness machines to rehabilitate patients.

2) Home: Smoke Detectors, cordless power tools and appliances and home insulation.

3) Airplanes: Collisions avoidance, lightning protection and windshear protection.

The full list of benefits is too long to list but can checked with sources [4] and [5].

My opponent points out a British newspaper which calls the Shuttle a failure but the Shuttle has had many achievements including building the ISS and the Hubble. The Shuttle itself is a versatile craft which can carry both cargo and personnel while simultaneously conducting microgravity experiments or repair and maintenance operations. No other craft can do this [6].

"Virgin has plans for the future. They plan to utilize their crafts for scientific experimentation as well" can hardly compare with NASA's achivements including the Hubble, the Shuttle, the ISS, and the Mars Rovers just to name a few.

4) Astronaut
Safety
The Space Shuttle had 133 successful missions with 2 failures. Other NASA craft have significantly better success rate. For Virgin to have fatalities with barely 17 missions into space shows that it is not safe enough.

Conclusion
NASA had numerous achievements with regards to manned space exploration sending people to the moon. The Space Shuttle was an amazing vehicle which put together the ISS and the Hubble. The ISS conducted research which led to huge benefits for mankind. Hubble as well NASAs robotic exploration of Mars, Jupiter and other planets furthered scientific understanding of space. Yes, NASA was funded with taxpayers dollars but it proved well worth it.

BennyW, it was a pleasure debating with you. I urge the voters to vote Pro.

Sources
[1] http://1.usa.gov...
[2] http://bit.ly...
[3] http://usat.ly...
[4] http://bit.ly...
[5] http://1.usa.gov...
[6] http://bit.ly...

BennyW

Con


I would like to thank my opponent and would like to finish off this debate by addressing his final points


My opponent asserts that since Virgin is a private company they have no vested interest in research. However, there are monetary benefits to research such as improving their ability to utilize space flight.


Since NASA has already gotten the ball rolling why reinvent the wheel, Virgin Galactic can use what NASA has learned and improve upon it doing their own private research.



1) Human Spaceflight


Most of what my opponent mentions as the benefits to the ISS can already be performed on Earth in Zero G vacuum conditions without the level of risk and expense involved in space. [1] I will admit ,living in space seems cool which I think is the idea that Virgin Galactic capitalizes on, first short glimpses of space and if all goes well more tours to come. My opponent acknowledges that first does not always mean best. Therefore Virgin can get in the space race late and still make better accomplishments in the end.



2) Unmanned Exploration


My opponent contends that since Virgin does not have a proven track record of Space flight it is not a valid comparison to compare it to NASA which has a record of space flight. However, there was a time when NASA was just starting out and didn’t have any record to go by either.


3) Failure of Space Tourism


My opponent claims that If the cost of supplies was more than the cost of the money they brought in then they would be losing money. They get their money from their customers so they don’t really have the ability to over spend, if they did they would fail. If NASA over spends they just go to the Government for more money thereby costing even more.



4) Astronaut Safety


It was suspected that the shuttle accidents could have been caused by neglect and them not being maintained as well as they should have been and launched under unsafe conditions and therefore totally avoidable. [2] [3]


Thanks again to my opponent and I ask the voter to vote con.



1 http://www.incredible-adventures.com...


2 http://www.msnbc.msn.com... (see point 7 in this link)


3 http://faculty.cbpp.uaa.alaska.edu...'s%20Safety%20Culture.pdf


Debate Round No. 4
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Mestari 3 years ago
Mestari
It looks like this debate isn't getting a very high amount of votes. It's late, but I'll vote on this tomorrow. It's not my cup of tea, but since you guys put so much work into it, you deserve opinions. If I forget then message me.
Posted by BennyW 3 years ago
BennyW
That last one should work, copy and past the two parts in the browser but replace the ... after edu with /
Posted by BennyW 3 years ago
BennyW
http://faculty.cbpp.uaa.alaska.edu...
afgjp/PADM610/Assessing%20NASA's%20Safety%20Culture.pdf

Let's see if you can see that then put the two parts together
Posted by BennyW 3 years ago
BennyW
This is annoying I don't know how I can get you to see it.
Posted by BennyW 3 years ago
BennyW
<http://faculty.cbpp.uaa.alaska.edu...'s%20Safety%20Culture.pdf>
Posted by BennyW 3 years ago
BennyW
It didn't transcribe the last link properly let's see if this works
http://faculty.cbpp.uaa.alaska.edu...'s%20Safety%20Culture.pdf
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 3 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Sounds good.
Posted by BennyW 3 years ago
BennyW
You could do that as long as it isn't too much of a tangent.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 3 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
I was in another debate where my opponent asked me to list the benefits on the ISS. Would you consider it fair or unfair if I write the same thing here?
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 3 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Ok, cool. The original way it is then.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Mestari 3 years ago
Mestari
F-16_Fighting_FalconBennyWTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: At the end of the debate Con's argument appears to be that Virgin Galactic may be better in the future. The resolution asks, however, which is better now, and Pro has established a proven track record. Spelling & Grammar to Pro because there were some negations missing in the earlier Con speeches completely changing what he was trying to say.
Vote Placed by randolph7 3 years ago
randolph7
F-16_Fighting_FalconBennyWTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con's arguments seem to boil down to "Virgin's just starting out". That fails to take away from NASA's achievements. Pro made a sufficient case for the resolution.