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In the film Contact, Jodie Foster is searching for extraterrestrial life. After a series of events where aliens give them a way to make a "spaceship." She travels to a place where she sees an alien who looks like her father and returns, but she never traveled anywhere in space according to Earth, just time. As such, no one believes that she really went to this place (despite the evidence that she recorded 18 hours of static in this time). My question is, Could they have sent another person in the machine? Maybe they mentioned this explicitly and I just missed it, but it seems bizarre that they just choose to not reuse this incredibly expensive alien device.

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The source novel and the original screenplay for the film approach this from slightly different angles. In both the book and the early screenplay, however the machine wasn't a 'drop' but a thingy made of a sort of crystal that sat inside a series of spinning thingies. You entered the machine through a transparent panel in the side.

Book

We don't learn the fate of the machine, but it was made abundantly clear that it simply wouldn't work a second time. It can be "spun up" but there won't be a connecting wormhole. Presumably any further attempt to use it would simply be aborted. Note also that the machine is fabulously expensive to use so it's likely it would (at some point) be tried again but just not work.

The tunnel from Honshu to Hokkaido was open again, but the passageway from Earth to Vega was closed. They hadn’t actually tested this proposition — Ellie wondered whether, when the Five finally left the site, the project would try to spin up the benzels again—but she believed what she had been told: The Machine would not work again; there would be no further access to the tunnels for the beings of Earth. We could make little indentations in space-time as much as we liked; it would do us no good if no one hooked up from the other side. We had been given a glimpse, she thought, and then were left to save ourselves. If we could.

Screenplay

In the earlier draft screenplay the government declared the project an apparent failure. The entryway to the machine becomes impervious to entry and the decision is taken to simply encase the entire thing in concrete in case it causes further problems, literally burying it.

PRESIDENT LASKER (V.O.): Put him through.
(as PHONE CLICKS)
Well?

KITZ (V.O.): Nothing. Apparently the surface began to ossify immediately after she emerged; all subsequent attempts to re-enter the machine have failed...

The sedan approaches the Capitol Building. The steps are mobbed with a surreal menagerie of the fanatical and the dispossessed. A huge bonfire has been built; images of Ellie on the cross...

KITZ (V.O.): ... as have all attempts at internal analysis. We've tried sonargrams, magnetic resonance, gamma rays; it's completely impenetrable.

PRESIDENT LASKER (V.O.): Recommendations?

KITZ (V.O.) I don't know. Maybe we built the damn thing wrong. Maybe it was all a hoax...
(sighs)
The safest thing would probably be to do a Chernobyl; encase it in concrete.

... (later)

HOKKAIDO

[The entombment of the machine has begun. Scaffolding on all sides, swarming with workers in quarantine suits. Helicopters fly overhead, dumping load after load of concrete.]

There's really no good reason to assume that the film machine suffered a different fate.

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  • in the film itself, Kitz states that all further attempts to use the machine have failed
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 18:50
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    @NKCampbell - I don't remember him saying that.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 19:02

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