What Is The The Point Of Space Exploration?

If you are interested in space exploration you have probably had a conversation with someone who thinks it’s a waste of time and money. Why would we go to space when we can’t even take care of our current home? Why should we spend money to visit another planet when there are starving children around the world? To be fair these are reasonable questions.

So, now we are going to address those concerns and discuss whether space exploration is a productive way to spend our valuable resources or not?

 Let’s start with the idea that money spends on space missions. NASA’s budget for the past several years has hovered around half a percent (0.05%) of total U.S discretionary budget a little under 21 billion dollars sounds like a lot of money. We could spend that money to built shelters or schools or something right. Sure, but let’s look at some other areas of spending that might also contribute. Consumers spent 22.8 Billion dollars on McDonald’s last year over 2 billion dollars more than NASA  gets in 2017. In the U.S alone people spent a hundred and twenty billions dollars on tobacco mainly cigarettes that’s six times NASA’s annual budget.

Now if we consider these three areas of spending which do you more contribute more to society what does are spending on McDonald’s give us a quick lunch and insane rates of obesity what about tobacco just cancer really. What about space missions nothing much just weather satellites, GPS, LED lighting, water purification system, home insulation, wireless headsets, freeze-dried food, the modern smoke detector of the computer mouse and countless other incredibly useful tools and facets of modern society that we take for granted today.

Every year NASA releases a publication called ‘spin-off’ which catalogues civilian uses of technology developed by NASA or in partnership with them. The list is extensive and includes a number of technologies that greatly reduce the amount of suffering in a place like Africa where clean water is hard to come by. So the next time someone claims that we’re wasting money that can be improving our lives here on earth remind them all of the tools that have been developed as a direct result of the space industry. Even based on this one point space exploration is objectively not a waste of money because it contributes so much more useful technology than many other industries. 

As with a lot of things people have this noble misguided idea that we could relocate money from some source of spending to help solve problems around the world. For example, they’ll say things like we could dig a thousand well with that amount of money the idea is nice but it’s naive do you really think if we didn’t allocate half of percent(0.5%) of the budget to space research,  it’d be spent on humanitarian endeavours. NO instead it would likely to tossed into the enormous defence budget to be spent on fighter jets or tomahawk missiles. This is like when you didn’t finish your dinner as a kid and your mother would say they are starving kids who would love to eat that, well yeah that’s true but what exactly am I supposed to do about it. I can’t exactly mail them my leftover broccoli.

 With space spending, it’s an even more ridiculous claim because the technology we developed for the space mission is directly and measurably benefitting at-risk and struggling population around the world so really not spending the money on the space industries would be decidedly worse than spending it and letting the technology find civilian uses.
Another big complaint some critics have is that we treat the Earth so poorly and we’ve done so much damage already that it should be our number one priority. We can all agree on this point we have been poor stewards of our home planet.  We have floating islands of trash in the oceans. We are speeding up climates change at an alarming rate thanks to fossil fuel use and industrial animal farming. We are already experiencing the consequences of erratically damaged global climate and we think we would do it better elsewhere in the universe. It’s a fair point but only on the surface. Yes, our greed and consumerism have done likely irreparable harm to the Earth. But you know how we can help by switching to renewable energy sources like solar and you Know where you figure out the best way to manufacture and super efficient solar technology. The freezing vacuum of space thanks to the space industry we are able to utilize and benefit from incredibly efficient solar arrays here on earth helping reduce the need for energy from fossil fuels in the future. 

We could slowly move our manufacturing off the earth and into space to further reduce environmental impact on a slightly unrelated note if someone says space exploration is a waste of money because we’re destroying the earth. Remind them to vote for a representative that has a strong green energy platform. If we like the politicians that respect the earth. The situation will gradually improve and we’ll see more renewable energy replacing fossil fuels and we will leave the earth a greener place for future generations. Which will allow them the luxury of really applying their minds to more advanced challenges of space exploration another response to the idea that leaving the earth is a waste of money is that as far as we know we’re the only sentient life in the universe.

If someday a massive planet-killing asteroid comes our way then that’s it’s  0ur species as well as every other species on earth is done.  I guess you could say if everyone is dead then no one is suffering but that doesn’t really count. By spending the money on space mission today, We’re building the groundwork for future generations to establish colonies elsewhere in the solar statement giving humanity a backup in case the earth gets obliterated in a freak possible natural disasters or nuclear war. 

Finally, the most honest answer to the question of why bother leaving the earth is just because what we do humans have always explored. “CURIOSITY” What’s over that mountain what is across this ocean. We overcome obstacles not because we have to but because we want to. We have this innate drive to learn to explore to become the best version of ourselves and space exploration is the natural extension of our story and history of adventure and knowing the unknown. 

So, the next time discussion with someone who thinks space exploration is pointless you have some answers. 

The technology we developed for space missions has innumerable uses here on earth – including green energy and humanitarian tools we spend a fraction of a percent of the annual budget on NASA and get so much more out of it than from other vastly more expensive industries. We are paving the way two help ensure the survival of humanity both on earth and among the stars and it’s part of our nature to boldly go where no one has gone before. Those sound like pretty good reasons for me to explore space.

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