The Final Frontier

June 6, 2010
By Jordan Roy BRONZE, Brattleboro, Vermont
Jordan Roy BRONZE, Brattleboro, Vermont
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

"I don't think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I'm an optimist. We will reach out to the stars."
-Stephen Hawking, interview with the Daily Telegraph, 2001

Fossil fuels are running out, there are food shortages across the globe, and an ever expanding population continue to plague our country despite our best efforts to stop them. I grew up watching movies like Star Trek and Star Wars, and I’ll admit that most of the things in those movies like light sabers aren’t yet possible. One thing that is possible now, is space travel. There are many important reasons to explore our galaxy.
The Earth’s resources are running out and exploration of the mysterious masses that float through our galaxy may help us find more. Our country is in need of more land for our people. As life spans are lengthened with better healthcare, our population continues to grow. The fact of the matter is that we aren’t able to support life on Earth for a whole lot longer. The colonization (creating livable areas for humans) of other planets should be considered to solve this dilemma. Our space program has already developed satellites and a weather forecasting system that can predict natural disasters to save lives. Imagine what we could gain if we invested more into agencies like NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). Right now the space shuttle program is being shut down and cuts are being made; we are moving in the opposite direction of where we should be. As an aspiring scientist who has taken many science classes please hear me out. In the 2007 the U.S. Governments budget totaled $2.784 trillion while NASA (our space program) only had $16.1 billion which is .58% of the budget. That needs to change.

Our country is in constant need of resources as we continue to develop. Giant sky scrapers, high-tech airplanes and massive boats require lots of materials. John S. Lewis, author of the book Mining the Sky said that on one asteroid, scientists found 30 million tons of nickel, 1.5 million tons of metal cobalt and 7,500 tons of platinum. The amount of platinum (a metal used for jewelry, automobile exhaust, and electronics) on that one asteroid is worth $150 billion. The wealth in space is practically endless while our planet has a finite amount of resources.

Almost every country in the world has an increasing population which has a significant impact on development of the Earth. It’s similar to a family who has a new child; you need more food, clothes, and every other comfort that a child will need. Lester Brown, author of Outgrowing the Earth predicts that the population will be around nine billion in 2050, an increase of about two and a half billion. By colonizing other planets we can lessen the environmental impact on Earth. We are also running out of undeveloped land. As I look around my home town, it becomes more and more developed each year; new gas stations are put up and fast food chains are built. Similarly to my town, our country will continue to develop. We are going to run out of space in the near future. We can develop the technology to travel to other planets and asteroids; we just need the money to do it.

The benefits of space technology are already in use in everyday life. Satellites give us cell phones, GPS and the weather forecast. The weather report gives us not only a daily forecast but also warns people of dangerous storms. Space research has also given our country solar technology to create environmentally sustainable energy. Global Warming is another area which can be researched through the space program. By finding out more about our atmosphere and the sun, solutions can be found to stopping the warming of the Earth. We need money to learn about our planet, and to study our atmosphere. We have gained a huge amount from space exploration in only sixty years. Imagine what we could gain in the next sixty.

Our economy was just hit hard, and money is spread thin. Things like health care, the military and social programs are a big priority, but the space budget is very small compared to these needs. Some people argue that this money should go towards more important needs like social programs, but these programs already total $1.581 trillion. If we were to use the space budget for these programs it would increase the budget to $1.597 trillion; and that’s not going to make a difference. NASA has also been giving back much more than it has received. G. Scott Hubbard, professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University and former director of the NASA Ames Research Center says that for every dollar spent on the space program the U.S. economy gets eight dollars back. Our military budget which is 38 times larger than the space budget is a great place to get money. Political activist Jeff Brooks says that the defense budget is already bigger than the next fifteen countries defense budgets combine. The space program could even benefit the military with advanced satellite technology. The benefits of space research and colonization of planets far outweigh the drawbacks.
A lot of people feel that we shouldn’t go explore other planets and asteroids because we already have too many problems on Earth but I disagree. We can learn how to better protect the Earth by exploring space. By researching outer space we can learn how to protect our own planet better than we have in the past like global warming. Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has said that it’s important to venture out into space for the survival of our species. He says that sooner or later a disaster will befall our planet and we must be ready for it. He also said that we can have a permanent base on the moon in twenty years and one on Mars in forty. These types of bases would be present to preserve our species; we aren’t going to destroy other planets. Venturing out into the unknown will also make our global standing better. As a country we are not only helping ourselves but other countries. We can share the new technology we gain with our allies and become a “parent” figure to the rest of the world.

The space program can help out our country economically and make our country an icon for the rest of the world. Abundant resources can be found on other planets and asteroids in our own solar system worth billions. Large amounts of land can be colonized to solve over population issues. The investigation of space can even give immediate effects of advanced technology that could help our country and keep the United States ahead of the curve. Don’t wait until we are forced to go into space. We need to start now, so we can help our country prosper. Sooner or later another country will venture deeper into space, and we’ll be left behind. So don’t hesitate; if you care about our country and our planet, expand the space budget. The power is in your hands to unlock the immense potential that hides in space.

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