Does Space Exploration Have Any Value?

ENGL 0101 English Composition 1

Benefits of Space Exploration

Space exploration assumes an integral part in today’s world of science and advanced technology, whereby the scientists all across the world have engaged them in the exploration of the celestial structures lying in the outer space with the help of newly developed space technology. However, the question that needs consideration in this regard is the extent to which the space exploratory activities can be deemed to be an issue of utility, when the earth itself is infested with multiple socio-economic problems. Accordingly, the following essay intends to explore that is it worth spending billions of dollars for exploring the uninhabited outer space, when the Mother earth itself is itself enmeshed in more than one life-threatening problem (Lyall et al.). The question that the essay intends to explore is the extent to which space exploratory activities can be deemed to be valuable, as far as human welfare is concerned.

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To begin with, I decided to search for articles that discussed the benefits of space exploration. Accordingly, I came across articles that demonstrate how a manned mission to Mars was being recently carried out by the scientists. The question automatically arises in my mind that what benefit could it serve to the millions of impoverished, starving people living across the globe. I have come across “Cost–benefit Analysis of Space Exploration: Some Ethical Considerations.” where the author Baum has defamed the idea of space exploration stating that the exorbitant amount that is reserved for the budget for exploring the outer space has been claimed to be of much use if invested in areas of economic development in the Third world nations, and conducting expensive medical researches for the terminable diseases. Instead the investment in space exploratory programs can offer no direct benefit to the public. Before invading the Mars, the critics claimed, the Earth, the planet one lives in, deserves proper exploration. However, I also came across other articles where I found that critics have counter-argued over this fact, and established an important perspective that deserves attention. For example, contrary to this opinion, the eminent scientist Bill Nye, also known as the “Science Guy”, has claimed that the scientific discoveries can potentially change the world and improve the lives inhabiting the same.. Nye, for example, explains the significance of the Mars Mission by stating how the expensive program has helped in confirming the fact that, 4.3 billion years ago, Mars did have a huge ocean, and the present existence of water body in Mars could lead to a big phenomenon- extraterrestrial life (Jia et al.). Though this would not serve the public immediately, it might help in eliminating the problem of overpopulation in the long run.

Critics of Space Exploration

Though the above argument sounded pretty convincing to me and it did persuade me into believing that space exploration is beneficial, I was still sceptical about its benefits considering the life-destroying impact it had on people in the last decades. Accordingly, I searched for articles that have argued that the significance of the outer space exploratory activities is dubious as a huge number of outer space missions have failed terribly, leading to the terrible death of human lives as well as the sheer wastage money. In the article International Space Station Accomplishments Update: Scientific Discovery, Advancing Future Exploration, and Benefits Brought Home to Earth.” , the authors stated how a considerable number of shuttle disasters have occurred, and the research points out how $125 million Mars Climate Orbiter met with a disastrous failure, and how NASA lost all its contact with the $165 million Mars Polar Lander . Since the last 40 years, the failed outer space mission had led to the waste of taxpayers’ money, making the value of space exploration dubious (Gill). However, on researching further more about the potential danger associated with space exploratory activities, I however, discovered that even this point has been contradicted by stating that the value of space exploration has usually been underrated, because of its everyday association with a vain human tendency to discover what lies beyond the immediate reality. In fact, space exploration has value as it helps in establishing the national and cultural supremacy of the United States in a better light, and thus offers national prestige in the international context to a nation as well (Nicogossian). To substantiate this point, it has been argued that the motivating factor behind the Apollo Program of the US which sent human to the earth was not space exploration, but rather the fact that it allowed the US get the opportunity of beating its hated Soviet Empire. The kind of national prestige conferred on the US for its scientific temperament and exploratory hunger helped in magnifying its national and cultural prowess. This helped me understand the less acknowledged benefit of space exploration, as it helps a country boost its socio-economic prestige in the international context as well.  This made me more enthusiastic to explore some other advantages of space exploration, as in the process, I came across  “Thrill of Space Exploration Is a Universal Constant”  in which the author Macilwaiin has also referred to the economic and social benefits of the space exploratory programs. The investment in varied space exploratory programs is not to be considered as a program involving wastage of money without any evident return on the same. Rather on the contrary, for every single dollar the NASA spends of on each space project, it receives $8. This does benefit the US or any other country boosts its economy, though the significance of earning money in this way is being subjected to question as well. For instance, the counter-argument here is that even if the US is being offered monetary reward for its scientific progress, and is advancing the country in one way, in absence of sufficient scientific advancement that directly benefits mankind, the money rewarded is also the wastage of the hard-earned money of the taxpayers only.

Value of Space Exploration

On exploring further, I also came across an article named Why Space Science and Exploration Benefit Everyone.” , that was enlightening in its own way as critics like Ocampo and Friedman stated an important socio-cultural benefit derived through the activities of space exploration is that it indirectly helps in establishing cultural harmony amongst different countries that cooperate with each other for joint space ventures (Ocampo et al.). While analysing the value of space exploration, it has to be remembered that it does offer a peaceful cooperative venue whereby rival countries like the USA and Soviet Union can also join hands for greater good, overlooking national state hostilities. A very compelling argument forwarded by Ocampo in this context is that space exploratory activities aid in creating the scientific temperament amongst the people, that is highly important for the advancement and progress of any civilization. It is important to state the fact that apace exploration does help in stimulating the children to enter the field of science and technology (Gantz et al.). I also wondered that the question of human curiosity to explore beyond the known realm cannot be  dismissed, and in this context I tried to seek articles that explored the metaphysical perspective of space exploration. I came across a strong and valid argument has been forwarded by Salas in “Teams in Space Exploration: A New Frontier for the Science of Team Effectiveness.”from the metaphysical perspective that is no less appealing in this context. Accordingly it has been argued that despite the huge expense involved in space programs, as well as the absence of any immediate benefit involved in the space programs, the space exploratory activities should be encouraged. This is simply because these programs can help the humanity get satisfactory answers to the existential questions, such as who we are and how did we emanate on this earth. Beyond the materialistic needs, the spiritual and metaphysical needs of a person can under no circumstance be compromised (Freitas). This helps in justifying the value of space exploration as well.

Despite the multiple advantages of space exploration, I decided to look for any possible strong counter-argument, so as to explore the other side of the story as well. I was amazed to find that mostly the articles have been focusing on the benefits and I thought was there no concrete drawback? Proceeding with the interrogation, I came across an article that has completely denied any value to it. According to the research conducted by University of Florida, it costs around $500 million to launch a space shuttle. Apart from the fact that involves huge expenses, that could have been used elsewhere for greater and immediate needs, the space exploratory activities have also been accused of causing unforeseen risks, while people are travelling far beyond the earth. Amidst innumerable examples of space program disasters, Winzelburg states in his article “Space Exploration: Long Island Business News”, that one can never deny how the space shuttle Challenger that exploded during launch in 1986, killed seven astronauts, and the shuttle Colombia that exploded during re-entry in 2003, also ended up killing seven. He has also pointed out that the humans have not explored approximately 95% of the earth, and in such a situation, exploring the outer space, leaving behind this unexplored planet, is futile. 

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To conclude, I would like to state that though the idea of space exploration has often been dismissed as unimportant, considering the billions of dollars spent by different space research agencies every year, the importance of space exploration cannot be overemphasized. On investigating the value of space exploration, I have come across articles that clearly praise the space exploratory activities of the US and any other nation. Of course, there were strong counter-arguments as well, yet I think that any scientific experiment accomplishes success in gradual course of time, and the lack of a space program will not solve anything else faster and a well planned program can deliver massive benefits. Hence, space exploration does have value, and it does serve in advancing human civilization to the next level.

Reference List:

Baum, Seth D. “Cost–benefit Analysis of Space Exploration: Some Ethical Considerations.” Space Policy 25.2 (2009): 75-80. Web.

Colin Macilwain. “Thrill of Space Exploration Is a Universal Constant.” Nature503.7476 (2013): 313. Web.

David Winzelberg. “Space Exploration.” Long Island Business News (2015): Long Island Business News, March 9, 2015. Web.

Freitas Jr, Robert A. Advanced automation for space missions. Lulu Press, Inc, 2017.

Gantz, John, and David Reinsel. “Extracting value from chaos.” IDC iview1142.2011 (2011): 1-12.

Gill, Paul. “Space, Mars, and Standards: NASA Technical Standards Program.” (2016).

International Space Station Accomplishments Update: Scientific Discovery, Advancing Future Exploration, and Benefits Brought Home to Earth.” Acta Astronautica 103 (2014): 235. Web.

Jia, Zai Jian, et al. “A two-phase design space exploration strategy for system-level real-time application mapping onto MPSoC.” Microprocessors and Microsystems 38.1 (2014): 9-21.

Lyall, Francis, and Paul B. Larsen. Space law: a treatise. Routledge, 2016.

Nicogossian, Arnauld E., et al., eds. Space Physiology and Medicine: From Evidence to Practice. Springer, 2016.

Ocampo, Friedman, and Logsdon. “Why Space Science and Exploration Benefit Everyone.” Space Policy 14.3 (1998): 137-43. Web.

Salas, Eduardo, Scott Tannenbaum, Steve Kozlowski, Christopher Miller, John Mathieu, and William Vessey. “Teams in Space Exploration: A New Frontier for the Science of Team Effectiveness.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 24.3 (2015): 200. Web.