What People Are For

[Robert Frost answered a question about space technology on Quora][q] that also addresses the importance of people, both as set of abilities but also as a set of memories:

> [W]hen the Apollo program ended, the factories that assembled those vehicles were retasked or shut down. The jigs were disassembled. The molds were destroyed. The technicians, engineers, scientists, and flight controllers moved onto other jobs. Over time, some of the materials used became obsolete.
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> If we, today, said – “Let us build another Saturn V rocket and Apollo CSM/LEM and go to the moon!” it would not be a simple task of pulling out the blueprints and bending and cutting metal.
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> We don’t have the factories or tools. We don’t have the materials. We don’t have the expertise to understand how the real vehicle differed from the drawings. We don’t have the expertise to operate the vehicle.
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> We would have to substitute modern materials. That changes the vehicle. It changes the mass, it changes the stresses and strains, it changes the interactions. It changes the possible malfunctions. It changes the capabilities of the vehicle.
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> We would have to spend a few years re-developing the expertise. We would have to conduct new tests and simulations. We would have to draft new flight rules and procedures. We would have to certify new flight controllers and crew.
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> We would essentially be building a new vehicle.

[q]: http://www.quora.com/How-did-we-lose-the-technology-to-go-to-the-Moon

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