I have heard too many people speak about the need to drop the space program and stop funding NASA. Such talk is only from ignorance. The space program is one of the best human endeavors. We are the gardening species of earth (of course, we have done a poor job so far). It is our ultimate destiny to cultivate the heavens if we wish to avoid extinction or self-destruction. The people who speak against going to space fail to realize that their comfy modern lives are a direct result from the space program in one form or another. They have a small view of life. While they may seem “down to earth” or “practical,” such people don’t realize that space exploration is the best source of innovation and jobs. I just wish 20% of the United State’s GDP could be funneled into space programs and loans for private space corporations. As of this writing NASA is not even 1% of the US budget. Two months of military expenditure in Iraq more than exceeds the entire budget of NASA for a year (1).
Space exploration opens up the infinite resources for private corporations. The trick is spending the funds to research ways to make it cost effect. There are asteroids that could meet all our metal needs for the next 1,000 years. There are moons that are composed of pure methane gas. We just have to develop technology to take us there cheaply and return the resources to earth. Space can become the ultimate boon for capitalism. The resources are so vast that monopolies would have difficulty flourishing. Certainly these ideas are in the “far” future. Just how far into the future is up to us to decide.
Space exploration, as I mentioned, has developed the technologies we use everyday and base entire sectors of our economy. This computer originated from the Apollo program. Your car? Yep its body and other components directly came from space exploration. Heck, even your microwave food, shirt, and cell phone originated from space in one way or another. Space exploration has endless possibility for businesses and jobs. The technology has the potential to end our problems with energy. Remember how solar panels were first seen on satellites?
Space also has less material benefits. Space exploration provides common ground for nations. It reduces conflict through mutual benefit. It teaches us that life on earth is not a zero-sum effort. The International Space Station (ISS) is an excellent example of mutual cooperation for mutual benefit. Space teaches us we are just an insignificant ball in a universe vaster than the human imagination. That beautiful insignificance allows us to realize the importance of embracing our commonalities. The universe won’t miss us if we nuke ourselves to oblivion, but we can enrich it into a paradise for live and compassion if we can only get out there and garden.
Space exploration is a boon for education. It inspires children to learn as few other things can. It gives us a sense of wonder and teaches us humility. It promises the opportunity to touch God’s face through the majestic universe. Space exploration is by far the noblest and most beneficial to spend money. It is the best source for technological innovation, jobs, private industry, wonder, inspiration, and commonality. Humanity is naturally inclined to explore and cultivate life. We just need to get our priorities in order.
To those who poo-poo space programs: be honest and stop watching television, using cell phones, driving cars, using computers, eating packaged foods, using LED’s, riding bicycles, and all the other things space exploration has benefited. Small minds only breed division and hamper the destiny of humanity.