What is one life worth?

A fascinating article, which is hard to disagree with, although the conclusion is a little counter-intuitive:

"Imagine that the captain of a $5 billion aircraft carrier let his ship sink rather than allow seven volunteers to attempt a repair, on the grounds that the odds favoring their survival were only 50 to 1. Such an officer would be court-martialed and regarded with universal contempt both by his brother officers and by society at large." (from How Much is an Astronaut's Life Worth?)

If you agree with this logic, it would be hard to argue with the case made in the article, that the top priority of a space mission should be Mission Success not Human Safety.

The article also very nicely puts a value on 'excess' expenditures for safety in space exploration by looking at how many lives could have been saved if those funds were spent on, for example, healthcare or immunizations.

Posted on February 1, 2012 .