Since the beginning of time, mankind has sought after learning about and exploring the universe. This yearning drove us to achieve such great things as the journey to the moon and the discovery of water on mars. Nowadays, several people argue as to whether or not space exploration is worth the effort. I believe that it is humanity’s instinctual nature to pursue a better understanding of ourselves, and our universe. Further understanding of our universe will lead to the discovery of new technologies and ways to secure humanity’s survivability. As such, this essay will argue that space exploration is a necessity to our kind and that NASA should be progressively more financed.
To begin with, space research has helped bring several developments to modern sciences, affecting the quality of our everyday lives. The innovation and modernization of technologies in recent years have greatly been influenced by NASA’s space exploration. Even though most aren’t aware of this, NASA’s discoveries have already benefited us significantly. For example, NASA’s advancements in science have brought us medical breakthroughs such as the use of an LED healing agent to reduce effect of chemotherapy and radiation in cancer patients (1). Their study in bioreactor-grown tissue has facilitated the conversion of malignant cancer cells to nonmalignant, attaining new insights into neurobiology, atherosclerosis, and diabetes (2). Furthermore, NASA’s innovation has furthered our knowledge on satellites and GPS, allowing us to forecast weather, floods and droughts, all from outer space (3). It’s evident that NASA’s work has influence in health, technology and quality of life. It goes to show that not only is space exploration valuable as a way of mental enlightenment, it is a way to gain valuable, tangible creations.
A second argument for space exploration is the safety and survivability of humanity. With issues like climate change, and population overgrowth, our species faces the risks of major extinction (4). Climate change has been a man-made problem of recent years that threatens our planet. It will take huge mitigations from current and future societies to even come close to reversing climate change. Not only that, but our population has been growing at an extremely alarming speed. At our current rate, our species may not be able to survive for much longer. This is where space exploration comes in. With the recent discovery of water on mars, and the finding of Kepler-78b, it is possible that mankind can prolong our existence. The possibility of interstellar travel seems to be an option or even a necessity if we wish to continue living. Populating another planet could help solve the population crisis and climate change simultaneously. Though, it seems we are not at that point currently, which is exactly why it is imperative that the government increase funding for space exploration. Now, even if inter-galactic habitation isn’t possible, space research helps us protect ourselves from asteroids and other threats, and could also be used to find other planetary resources. Nonetheless, it seems space research is of utmost significance if we want to continue living as a species.
Finally, a lot of people against space exploration funding think that the costs are very high and too inefficient even though that is not true. The main argument against space travel says that the money used could be better put on other matters. This is in fact very untrue. Looking at NASA’s 2015 budget of 17.5 billion, it may seem like a lot, until you realize that the US military budget for 2014 was 581 billion dollars (5). Furthermore, it was estimated that each dollar in NASA’s budget was equivalent to 8 – 10 dollars of economic benefit (6). If an organization can bring about economic value at 10 folds the original budget, it would be logical to continue funding it, if not increasing the funds. Even if we disregard the economic value of the space program, the achievements of NASA speak for themselves. The ability to send humans onto the moon, survey the surface of Mars using the Curiosity rover, and even finding water on a foreign planet is astounding. Even looking at the International Space Station, it seems abundantly clear that the space program brings more unanimity between nations than the military will ever hope to achieve, while the military has a budget 33 times that of the space program. Hence, blaming the costs of the space program is an absurd argument, as the budget that is put into the program is used very proficiently.
In conclusion, space travel has supported humanities interest in the past and it will continue to do so in the future. The innovative minds of NASA have brought health, safety and unity of nations, through the pursuit of space exploration. Technological novelties in medicine and communication have assisted cancer patients and brought cautions of forecasts. New information and resources have brought mankind longevity and can continue to do so in the future and finally, the knowing of the unknown drives us all and helps us achieve a piece of mind. Therefore, it is in our best of interest, for our present and future, to support space exploration, and continue backing the space program. As Larry Niven once said “The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn 't have a space program. And if we become extinct because we don 't have a space program, it 'll serve us right!”