English 12, Period 3
February 7, 2012
Reaping the Benefits of Space Exploration
Curiosity has been the driving force behind the human race ever since the first Homo sapiens have started walking. Our very survival and dominance of Planet Earth has only resulted from our ability to solve problems and innovate to accomplish our goals. This uncanny problem solving ability of the Human race doesn’t even restrict us terrestrially, as it has propelled us into the “heavens” within the last 60 years, and along with it, a plethora of new technological and biological benefits that have never been possible before. The exploration of space has been incredibly resourceful for the advancement and benefit of humans, not only in space, but also on Earth, making space exploration a valuable asset that should never be discontinued.
In the United States of America, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Division) is the main organization for conduction space exploration and development. NASA runs under government supervision and under government funding, in other words, it is not a private company. NASA’s vision is “To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.” It was launched by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, partly to combat the Soviet Union in the “space race” of the cold war. NASA has grown ever since, putting the first men on the moon in 1968, and in 2000 helping build the International Space Station with the help of fifteen other countries including Russia. NASA is organized into three directorates, the first being Aeronautics, which is responsible for development of better flight technologies to explore and to have practical applications on Earth, Human Exploration and Operations, which is responsible for the International Space Station and human exploration above high atmosphere orbit, and Science, which is responsible for exploring not only space, but earth, and developing technologies for the betterment of human society from what is learned from space exploration. NASA is planning a human landing on Mars within the next half century, and allowing commercial companies to send cargo and astronauts to and from the International Space Station (“What does NASA do?”). The future of the space program under NASA is looking bright, but despite the obvious rewards of space exploration there are still some risks and downsides that many seem to dwell on.
There are obvious risks to exploring the unknown the most infamous being the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster in 1986, where the shuttle exploded on takeoff, killing all seven crew members. The lives of those lost will always be remembered, but the benefits of space exploration vastly outweigh the risks. Would there be an America today if Christopher Columbus thought it was too risky to sail the ocean blue? Shrinivas Kanade explains that without space exploration Americans wouldn’t have many of the things they take advantage of daily, including G.P.S. or Global Positioning Systems, Satellite T.V. and Radio technology, weather forecasts and many more. He also explains that the innovations in Electronics, Materials, and Medicine, all thanks to space exploration (“Space Exploration Benefits). One might be apprehensive and say the cost of the shuttle program doesn’t match up to the possible and proven benefits of the space shuttle program. But Boeing clearly states that the funds allotted to the space program in the United States total to less than one percent of the federal budget (Boeing). Representative Ralph Hall, a republican from Texas argues that “The one-half of one percent of the national budget devoted to NASA may be the best investment we make, providing for long-term, high-dividend research and technology breakthroughs.”(Hall, Numerous Benefits from Space exploration) Despite ending NASA’s Constellation project, who’s purpose was to send astronauts back to the moon, President...