Space is an open frontier for new technology and new discoveries. So many advances in an average person’s life have come from space exploration, such as memory foam, shoe insoles, and smoke detectors (Pegg 2). Space exploration, however, continues to be a controversial topic, but it is needed. There are many benefits to space exploration including providing economic benefits, learning about space to learn about the planet, and making advances in astronomy for inspiration and creation of new technology.
One of the main benefits to space exploration is it provides a plethora of economic benefits. The National Aeronautic and Space administration (NASA) seeks partnership with U.S. companies so they can license NASA and create innovations available to the public, or “spinoffs,” in areas such as health and medicine, consumer goods, transportation, renewable energy, and manufacturing (Talbert). Leveraging NASA technology not only benefits the regional economy but notably strengthens the nation’s competitiveness in the global marketplace (Talbert). NASA’s small business innovation program allows them to bring cutting-edge new products into the U.S. economy (Talbert). Neil deGrasse Tyson, respected space advocate, states that “innovation drives the economy” (Chow) which is evident through NASA’s small business program. Technological changes cause an important influence on the national rate of economic growth. Multiple studies conclude that 90 percent of the long term increase in output per capita in the U.S. have been traceable to technological advances. Results from these studies are rough but they do confirm the significant effect or technological advances (Schnee).
One of the more useful benefits of space exploration is learning about space to learn about the planet. Satellites and other tools used in space exploration directly affect the environment, transportation, emergency response, communication and medicine (Dunford). Many space missions are to help the planet “Going into space is about the problems on Earth” (Dunford). NASA’s biologists study satellite images to learn about deforestation in the Amazon. NASA’s satellites use gravity maps to monitor the planet’s vital signs such as sea level height, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, and Antarctic ozone, plus the gravity maps trace movement of water around the globe (“Greatest Hits from Landsat”). NASA also conducts environmental research and have done a lot of work studying air quality, climate change, alternative energy, and near Earth objects (Hohler). The International Space Station (ISS) is an orbiting laboratory that provides a unique environment for scientific discovery. The ISS is not only enabling humans to explore the solar system, it is leading to countless improvements for life on Earth (Garan). There are many observatories made to study space that have made discoveries about earth (Gregersen 184). Space based science offers an environment to cultivate new materials, better medicine, improved methods for clean water, and better ways to grow food for the growing global population (Garan). There is a limitless number of discoveries to be made about Earth from space.
Apollo 11 inspired an abundance of children to be astronauts, astronomers, and engineers. Space can inspire art, along with math and science. The arrival of the European Space Agency Rosetta mission at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko inspired songs, short videos, and many other works of art (Howell). Space has been inspiring humans since the “space race” in 1959 (Gregersen 172). Space innovations make headlines and show kids how cool engineering is,they will know based on the cultural presence of space activities (Chow). President Eisenhower wanted to build a highway system. His interstate system connects everybody. This type of capability can be used for a multitude of reasons including military endeavors, science missions, commercial expeditions, and space tourism (Chow). Children look up to astronauts and see everyday people do things they only imagined were possible. Astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson also said “space is a $300 billion industry worldwide, NASA is a tiny percent of that. But that little bit is what inspires dreams” (Chow). NASA also shows children that dreams are possible. They give students and adults something to look up to and things to watch on the news (Mascaro). Discovering new things gives people something to reach for.
Despite the positives, there are those who believe space exploration has negative effects. The percentage of finding something useful is low and if nothing is found then it was a waste of time and money. If NASA does not find anything or discover anything new they will just end up causing debt. Even though new things are not discovered the experiments lead to new inventions that benefit the people. Being thousands of miles above Earth can lead to negative effects on the body. Risks include gravity fields, isolation/confinement, space radiation, and distance from Earth (Abadie). Flying through gravity fields can cause kidney stones, vision problems, and bone loss (Abadie). Although there are physical risks to going into space, NASA is researching the effects and has a program called Human Research Program that is finding solutions to these problems (Abadie). Sending machines into space also causes man-made debris or “space junk” (Garcia). There are more than 500,000 pieces of debris orbiting around Earth traveling fast enough to damage a satellite or spacecraft. With more and more debris causes an increase of potential danger to space vehicles (Garcia).Even with so much debris in space there have been little casualties and NASA is tracking the debris to avoid problem. While space exploration does cause risks it is necessary.
As scientific research continues to expand the universe, more people need to see the advantages, including providing economic benefits, learning about space to learn about Earth, and making advances in astronomy for inspiration and creation of new technology. Space exploration provides so much for the human race. The mission should be to continue it for many generations. Space is a wide open field with many possibilities the human race can explore.