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Who Should Be the Main Characters in the Space Exploration Narrative: Robots or Humans?

High School
Floral Park Memorial High School
Graduation Year
Student review
My mentor was extremely understanding and helpful. She taught me so many things about the field I'm interested in that weren't even necessarily related to my research paper.

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Project description

The spacecraft industry is advancing and growing faster than before. According to the Space Foundation, the space economy grew at the fastest annual rate last year since 2014. So far, in comparison to unmanned missions, fewer manned missions have been launched. Past space missions have shown that manned and unmanned missions both have certain advantages and disadvantages which must be considered so future space missions can be carried out more efficiently and effectively. In this project, I first studied future unmanned space missions, such as the Europa Clipper and Artemis I, to learn how they will be conducted successfully. Then, I researched future manned space missions, such as the Artemis II mission and the launch of SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft to the moon and Mars, to determine how they will be executed successfully. Lastly, I considered the advantages and disadvantages of manned missions in comparison to unmanned missions, where I found that manned missions are 20% more successful than unmanned missions, but that unmanned missions tend to cost less than manned missions. This research highlights that manned missions allow astronauts to conduct experiments and create new solutions to problems that arise but can also be risky and costly. On the other hand, unmanned missions don’t endanger human lives, are less costly, and can reach farther planets with harsh conditions that humans can’t survive in. Overall, this work concludes that a combination of manned and unmanned missions need to be carried out in future space missions to make space exploration as safe, successful, and informative as possible.

Who Should Be the Main Characters in the Space Exploration Narrative: Robots or Humans?
Project outcome

Research Paper

PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Chemistry, Engineering
I have degrees in chemical engineering, earth & planetary science, and aerospace engineering, but my work also intersects mechanical engineering, materials science, and environmental engineering. I welcome opportunities across these fields.
Mentor review

She was very understanding about my schedule and pushed me to dig deeper and be more explanatory in my research paper

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