In reference to the recent shuttle catastrophe, Prof. Allen Klinger of the UCLA Engineering Department writes (Letters Feb. 4) that "power is being used in evil ways," wasting "money that could help build the public good." As an example of this public good he cites the "imagery obtained from unmanned space probes" and gives this imagery the credit for a remarkable fraction of mankind's recent technological advances.
Klinger, who is a veteran of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, should be ashamed of himself for his earthbound thinking and his lack of vision. Does he not understand the information that would be coming from Uranus right now if it were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin out there? Instead we have a computer built with archaic 1970s technology, being kept alive by ingenuity despite several minor component failures.
As a person who is involved with engineering and the space program, surely he understands how incredibly limited a computer's capabilities are. Shuttle astronauts recently repaired a satellite in space, a satellite that was crippled by a failure of one of Klinger's revered robots. I should think this would be evidence enough to demonstrate the absolute necessity of a manned space program.