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What makes human space exploration very difficult is the infrastructure require to support a human body outside earth. It must be researched, developed and tested thoroughly which can take many years and can quickly drain budgets. Once ready, it requires even more resources just to launch it into space with humans onboard. In contrast, it's far simpler and less expensive to send unmanned probes. In fact, it has already been achieved. For whatever reason, perhaps to stroke the collective ego of homo sapiens on earth, space exploration without humans is unsatisfactory. Has a compromise ever been considered?

Instead of sending entire bodies into space, why not just send human heads into space? A human head has less mass and requires less energy that a complete body. A smaller, more compact infrastructure can supply the brain with the proper nutrients and oxygen. The spacecraft can be as small as a probe. If a noggin in space is still unsatisfactory, the spacecraft can carry the required chemicals to regenerate a full human body for the purposes of colonization (eases budget concerns by western governments). Moreover, the required technology for noggin based exploration is far further along than whole body space exploration.

https://www.technologyreview.com/2018/04/25/240742/researchers-are-keeping-pig-brains-alive-outside-the-body/

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    $\begingroup$ I’m voting to close this question because this is not about astronomy or astrophysics. It may be on topic for the Space Exploration SE. $\endgroup$ – user24157 Sep 23 '20 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ Why not transfer the question? $\endgroup$ – ATL_DEV Sep 23 '20 at 16:56
  • $\begingroup$ That would require someone with the ability to do the transfer. $\endgroup$ – user24157 Sep 23 '20 at 16:58
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    $\begingroup$ I can't see this idea catching on, mate, to be honest. However, it's kind of interestingly macabre. $\endgroup$ – White Prime Sep 23 '20 at 18:51
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    $\begingroup$ @ATL_DEV "Why not transfer the question?!" You can do this. It's easy. Delete the question here. Then ask a new question on Space Exploration. No need for mods (who don't get paid) $\endgroup$ – James K Sep 23 '20 at 19:25
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One word objection : volunteer !

I cannot see who would volunteer who would also be suitable. There is also the question of what happens when/if they get back ?

Sending a brain by itself is pointless. We send humans because they are general purpose problem solving machines capable of independent movement and have hands with opposable thumbs. All a "head in a jar" can do is exactly what a computer could do with a great deal less effort. If you are not sending a body, there is just no point in sending a brain.

Also be cautious reading headline grabbing stories like that. The definition of alive is important here as that is quite different from keeping it 100% intact. Memories can be lost and the subject brain become the equivalent of a lump of living tissue that no longer properly controls the body it started in. Alive just means cells still operating at that level, not brain as a whole 100% intact and ready for reinsertion to the body it came from.

Computers do it better, faster and more efficiently than a human head. Humans may want to go into space, but scientists have very limited uses for them - and indeed many people would prefer use trained monkeys (and we have).

the required technology for noggin based exploration is far further along than whole body space exploration

Obviously this is wrong.

We can right now send an entire body into space and, baring accident, get them back not only alive but able to give interviews on TV. We cannot keep a human brain alive now in the manner you describe and this won't happen any time soon (or probably even in my lifetime).

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, you don't need volunteers. There's tons of people on death row, hence capit-al punishment. $\endgroup$ – ATL_DEV Sep 23 '20 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ As far as technology, we can send them into orbit and possibly the moon, but to distant planets, it's much harder. $\endgroup$ – ATL_DEV Sep 23 '20 at 17:01
  • $\begingroup$ Another set of volunteers can be people whose bodies have completely deteriorated to the point of being useless. $\endgroup$ – ATL_DEV Sep 23 '20 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ NASA astronauts are normally PhD level science or engineering types with a solid reputation for reliability and integrity. How could forced criminals sentenced to death be a replacement ? There is no purpose in sending humans to distant planets now. Finally not all that many people intellectually or psychologically suited to space travel to start with (as vital crew), and very unlikely to get many people with dysfunctional bodies who actually want to loose that body and who would be suitable. Body not working ? You want it fixed not lost. It's nonsense. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Sep 23 '20 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ Hello Houston? We can communicate with the noggin remotely and monitor it along with providing it instructions from earth by a PH.D. of your choice. As for having the psychological wherewithal, medications, such as anti-depressants and or opiates can be administered in flight when and if brain signaling suggests distress. I agree there's no purpose to sending humans to distance planets, but neither was there one for sending men to the moon and certainly is there case for colonizing mars. $\endgroup$ – ATL_DEV Sep 23 '20 at 17:38

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