Space Travel

Topics: Space exploration, Human spaceflight, International Space Station Pages: 5 (1796 words) Published: May 15, 2013
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| Should the U.S. Government Support A Manned Space Program at the Expense of the U.S. Tax Payers?1. The Man In Space ControversyShould the United States support a "Man In Space" program? Opinions here diverge, with opponents and proponents presenting strong arguments on both sides.The opponents like to point out how enormously expensive manned space operations are with every shuttle flight costing tax payers some $500,000,000 and with the anticipated bill for the international space station expected to be $35-40 billion dollars. They also think that the returns from such space investments so far don't justify the expense. They suspect that many of the tests on new materials and purer crystals could somehow be performed on earth for much lower costs, either through automated systems on less-expensive unmanned rockets or even in laboratories. They further state that in their opinion it is reckless to spend such enormous sums of money on something with uncertain return when there are so many unmet needs here on earth.The proponents of manned space programs have a difficult time countering these strong arguments. However, they point out that the space shuttle now exists, so we might as well make use of it. They believe that the new materials created in the space environment may prove extremely useful, and that the perfect crystals which cannot be made in earth's gravity will allow us to decipher the molecular structure of viruses. Thus, they may help us create powerful new drugs, perhaps overcoming critical diseases, even AIDS. Furthermore, they state that the space station, which represents the first truly international endeavor on a great scale, will promote cooperation and understanding between nations and will help eliminate future wars.Taking a broader view, there is no doubt that exploration of new lands and conquests of new frontiers have always been creative forces throughout the history of humanity, and have promoted the advancement of knowledge and culture. In my view, when Congress, in 1993, barely saved the International Space Station from being abandoned, by a single vote, a decisive event occurred in man's conquest of space. This critical act may deeply affect humanity's future. It was the discovery of the New World that gave Western civilization the impetus for the explosive growth in science and technology that took place during the succeeding centuries. Exploring space and colonizing other planets is not an option. It is a necessity if humanity is to evolve and not become a stagnant species with no room and no incentive for further development.2. Near-Term Goals in SpaceThanks to the American Space Shuttle and to the Russian Soyuz rockets, two independent manned space transportation systems do exist. Thus, even if one of them should fail, manned space activity would not necessarily come to a halt. With theInternational Space Station now confirmed and many of its key elements in production, the future of manned space activity seems to be firmly established. Once the station is completed and permanently manned, even a serious accident like the Challenger disaster won't stop our involvement in manned space, since the Station's crew will have to be supported and exchanged whatever happens.Today several very expensive projects involving the launch of large numbers of communications satellites into orbit are progressing, and more are being planned. They will provide another important support to space activity in general. The large market for satellite launch services is encouraging commercial companies to develop unmanned space-transportation systems based on reusable rockets. These projects, if successful, will provide safer and more affordable access to space and thus benefit all other space-related activities. Furthermore, NASA is financing the X-33 program, the sub-orbital forerunner of theVenture Star, a reusable single-stage orbital rocket which, if successful, will provide a much more affordable...
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