Space Exploration

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Is NASA’s Space Program Worthwhile to Continue Funding?
The world has anxiously followed the Mars arrival of the space vessel Curiosity. Recently, on October 31, 2012, Curiosity's analysis of Martian soil found it to be eerily similar to that of Hawaii. This mission, like so many before it, exemplifies NASA’s commitment to acquiring knowledge about the worlds beyond ours. NASA, though struggling with budget cuts and the end of the shuttle mission, is still making great progress with its current space program. NASA offers new medical and technological advancements through NASA research and development, inspiration to millions around the world, and an opportunity seeking to adamantly enlarge the boundaries of human knowledge that the universe holds; with all these great discoveries and the incredible contributions NASA has devoted to science and our society, NASA’s space program should be funded by the federal government sufficiently to continue its great work. Critics argue that the cost of funding these projects does not justify the results that are achieved, yet through research and development, NASA has made some incredible, new technological and medical advances that have helped enhance life on Earth. Though our space program provides new scientific developments, both medical and technological, our country’s debt is dangerously high and increasingly climbs higher each day. Because of this debt and technology and the evolution of technology, many critics feel that NASA’s space program does not have an impact on our country, as the world has become more modernized and less dependent on new technologies for daily survival. Additionally, critics believe technology used in Apollo missions, such as space rocketry and jet propulsion used by NASA forty years ago, becomes outdated, too fast. Technology being used today is not always newest available, or neither will it provide instant results of new findings the moment the probe or satellite is slung into orbit. In addition to lapses in technological capabilities, the cost to fund space projects is not beneficial in the short term, although it can be in the long term. For example, a space based weapon enabling the U.S. to track terrorists would take a long time to develop and would be too expensive, even if it benefits Nation Security in preventing future terrorist attacks. Also, NASA would have a difficult time building a satellite in time to keep up with current technology; every time NASA engineers attempt to build a space probe or satellite, the technology changes, and the engineers would have to start over constructing it. Conversely, supporters of the NASA space program disagree with the critics and provide significant evidence that when sufficiently funded, benefits are numerous and well-worth the cost. Compared to the budget of other government programs like Social Security, Defense, and Healthcare/Medicare, the budget provided to NASA is small. As funding grows tighter, NASA is unable to do anything monumental with their budget being cut. NASA and scientific development coexist with the outcry for increased education funding so the U.S. can compete on a global level, often hearing the need to invest in math and science education. But if American motives truly lie in furthering scientific endeavors, why would the government cut the budget of a program that helps reach these goals. Unlike the critics who argue that since NASA cannot keep up with technology, the program’s funding should be cut, supporters argue against this by providing an example. In medicine, it often takes time to test new drugs before they can even be put on the market. This does not mean that new drug technology funding should be cut because it takes time. If this were the case, then many advancements in medicine may not have ever been discovered. The critics earlier pointed out how a space-based weapon enabling the terrorists to be tracked would be too expensive, even if it provided security....
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