Space Exploration: A Waste or Worthy Cause?

Space Exploration: A Waste or Worthy Cause?

Emalie Esmail, Freshman Staff Writer

Continued space exploration has created many controversies, yet also continues to pique human curiosity. Not only are the discoveries completely fascinating, but they have also provided many benefits to human society. Some of these benefits include advances in environmental energy, ensuring the safety of Earth, bonding between countries engaged in exploration, the creation of scientific and technical jobs, industrial productivity, future transportation, sparking the interest of youth, and many, many more. 

Right now space exploration is funded by NASA, and according to an online article titled “Your Guide to NASA’s Budget,” “The Biden Administration is proposing a 6.6% increase to NASA’s budget in 2022, to $24.8 billion.”  Currently, about 45% of that budget is spent on human spaceflight. See the 2020 chart embedded in this article.

Although this may seem like a lot of money, more spent could be even more beneficial. Congress, which has ultimate authority over NASA’s spending, has yet to release its own legislation in response NASA’s request for more spending.

If additional money were provided for space exploration, the technological and scientific advances made could benefit society even more so. For example, putting satellites into space would more easily monitor weather and provide information about Earth’s oceans and clouds. Take time to imagine what kind of information more advanced satellites could provide. Other goals to the space program include “sending humans and robots beyond Low Earth Orbit and establishing sustained access to destinations such as the Moon, asteroids and Mars;” creating space agencies that work together for exploration, developing new forms of power and energy generation, creating recycling and waste storage facilities, to name a few.

When Hubbard High School student Ava Flowers was asked if more money should be spent on space exploration, she commented: “Yes, funding space exploration can lead to greater advancements in future times.” 

Many argue the disadvantages of space exploration as well, though. According to an article by Andreas Haga from ‘environmental-conscience.com’: “One important problem with space exploration is that it contributes greatly to air pollution. When a rocket is launched into space, a large number of fossil fuels are used…In turn, space travel implies significant air pollution, especially for people who live close to those facilities who may suffer from the poor air quality.“ What the author is trying to get across is that not only do these rockets hurt the environment, they may hurt humans as well. 

Space exploration is also extremely expensive as it currently operates, evidenced by the chart above. When Hubbard High School sophomore Caroline Capuzello was asked her opinion on the controversy she said, “Space exploration is costly, and I do not think traveling through space will positively affect our earth.” The other problem is that much of this money spent is speculative. What if nothing is found, no benefit is achieved, initial inventions or endeavors fail? All of that money would essentially be burnt up. Opponents argue that this money could have always been used in more charitable ways. 

So do we continue to look toward the stars or focus downward on our immediate problems? That is the question that sparks the controversy. Space exploration has both advantages and disadvantages, and the pros and cons must necessarily be considered.

 

Sources- https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/space-exploration-and-us-competitiveness

https://environmental-conscience.com/space-exploration-pros-cons/

https://www.planetary.org/space-policy/nasa-budget

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/files/Benefits-Stemming-from-Space-Exploration-2013-TAGGED.pdf