What is the purpose of space exploration?

What is the purpose of space exploration? People have always longed for the universe. Moreover, from hot air balloons to airplanes, and to  rockets, people are constantly exploring higher places. As the whole world continues to invest a lot of money in outer space exploration, more and more doubts have emerged;  should people continue to invest a huge amount of money on exploring outer space or  just give this money to other fundamental fields such as education or medicine?

After understanding the cost of exploring outer space and the value it can bring to people, the government should continue to fund outer space exploration because the costs are far  beyond the costs. 

Exploration is the foundation that promotes human development. Human history is a  history of development. From the ancient stone age, primitives used stones to make the tools they wanted, then used bronzes, steam engines, and finally reached our current electrical age. Furthermore, people are keen to explore and learn about unknown fields and use new  technologies to improve their existing lives. Continuously developing the existing realities will not improve the current status, but learning new things will make a qualitative change. In the early days, the mortality rate of people was very high, and the  common cold could become a lethal disease, because they did not have good medicine and medical equipment. With the invention of many medical devices such as antibiotics and microscopes, many diseases that were previously regarded as fatal can be easily  treated today.

Back in the time of the Apollo Project when the US and Soviet Union had a  competition on space technology: the requirements for high precision and for extreme  reliability which must be imposed upon the components of a moon-traveling spacecraft  were entirely unprecedented in the history of engineering (Siegel, 2017). The development of systems which meet these severe requirements has provided us a unique  opportunity to find new material and methods, to invent better technical systems, to improve manufacturing procedures, to lengthen the lifetimes of instruments, and even  to discover new laws of nature (Siegel, 2017).

Also, all this newly acquired technical knowledge is also available for application to earth-bound technologies.

Significant progress in the solutions of technical problems is frequently made not by a direct approach. Furthermore, by first setting a goal of high challenge which offers a strong motivation for innovative work (Siegel, 2017). Setting an ambitious goal is usually a start to improvement; in order to finish the seemingly impossible goal, people exploit resources. In addition, develop technology, and accelerate the economy to reach the requirements. Finally, this process has helped us to make progress, let alone the results. Studying the unknown is always the prerequisite for a better life and a natural behavior of human beings. As a result, outer space, a realm we are obsessed with and so unfamiliar to us, is worth exploring. 

Outer space exploration has made a lot of contributions to technological advancement, even if most people do not realize it. Actually, applications that relate to outer space are not far from the public. Outer space programs helped to solve the problem of starving. 

According to Siegel’s article (2017), food production by agriculture, cattle ranching,  and ocean fishing is efficient in some parts of the world, but drastically deficient in many others. Sometimes, it is because of the improper use of land, lack of understanding  of local resources, and inappropriate selections of crops. The best tool for the improvement of all these problems, undoubtedly, is the artificial earth satellite. It can  screen wide areas of land within a short time by circling the globe at a high altitude, it  can observe and measure a variety of factors indicating the status and condition of crops,  soil, droughts, rainfall, snow cover, and so forth, and it can radio this information to ground stations for appropriate applications on Earth.

“It has been estimated that even  a modest system of earth satellites equipped with earth resources, sensors, working  within a program for worldwide agricultural improvements, will increase the yearly  crops by an equivalent of many billions of dollars.”

(Siegel, 2017). Satellite television, GPS, and the signal used in mobile phones that people use every day are all connected  to outer space (Nineplanets, 2019). Also, with the building of the international space station,  scientists invented a useful way to purify water, and this purification skill is used in  many places that do not contain sufficient fresh water. (Rainey, 2015) Outer space provides lots of contributions to human lives, but those people who resist exploring  outer space do not understand them. 

The fact is not, as most people think, that the investment in outer space exploration is wasting money. One source reports that NASA’s 2015 budget was about eighteen billion dollars. It is estimated that the total economic benefit of each dollar spent on the  space program has been between eight dollars and ten dollars.

Compared to the annual  total economic cost of smoking in the US which exceeds three hundred billion dollars, outer  space exploration is without doubt a worthy business. (Fowler, 2014) NASA received  probably twenty-five billion dollars in funds in the 2021 fiscal year, which only takes 0.5 percent of the total federal budget in the US. Compared to education or health services that both accepted more than seventy billion dollars, the investment spent on outer space was an extremely small part. (Amadeo, 2020) It sounds fair because education and health services relate more to basic lives. However, outer space exploration also  plays an important role in improving the lives of human beings, stimulating the economy, promoting technologies, and has the investment that it deserves and even not  enough.  

The American government is trying to contract with private departments to make outer space exploration financially sustainable.

By doing this, privates own the opportunities  to explore the universe, and reduce government budget pressure. Actually, many  universal activities can be commercialized, such as mining asteroids for useful raw  materials, low-gravity experiences, and universal experiments.

There is a practical example: SpaceX’s Falcon Nine successfully launched. In addition, spent only one-third the  price of a traditional NASA-contracted launch (Greason, 2020). It demonstrated the private-sector capabilities to fulfill many current NASA functions at a higher efficiency.  Such achievement frees up NASA to concentrate on its core research and exploration  missions in space and stimulates the private sectors’ interest to see the reality of 

universe. (Greason, 2020) Universe commercialization is a trend for space lovers to explore space personally and an opportunity to make space exploration financially sustainable. Moreover, at that time, exploring space will totally not be an economic burden. People  can boldly assume that we can freely go into and out of space to personally explore the  mysteries of space in the future. 

In conclusion, outer space exploration not only directly develops human lives in medicine, daily life, technology, economy and so forth, but also a deeper appreciation of lives and future. Lastly, therefore, outer space should gain a lot of attention, and it is worthy  to explore.

Written by Sirui Hao

References: 

1. Tyson, N. (2020, August 7). Why exploration matters—and why the government  should pay for it. McKinsey & Company,https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-and-social-sector/our insights/why-exploration-matters 

2. J. Dick, S. J. D. (n.d.). NASA – The Importance of Exploration. NASA. Retrieved  December 5, 2020, fromhttps://www.nasa.gov/missions/solarsystem/Why_We_01pt1.html

3. The Nine Planets. (2019, November 5). What Are The Benefits Of Space Research?  | Why, Outcome & Cost,https://nineplanets.org/questions/benefits-of-space research/ 

4. Rainey, K. (2015, October 9). 15 Ways the International Space Station is Benefiting  Earth. NASA,https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/15_ways_iss_bene fits_earth/ 

5. Fowler, W. (2014, July 12). Exploring Space Is Still Worth the Cost, Says UT  Expert. The Alcalde. https://alcalde.texasexes.org/2014/07/exploring-space-is still-worth-the-cost-says-ut-expert/ 

6. Siegel, E. (2017, October 26). Why Exploring Space And Investing In Research Is  Non-Negotiable. Forbes,https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2017/10/26/even-while-the world-suffers-investing-in-science-is-non-negotiable/?sh=56edaf3f1647 

7. Greason, J., Bennett, J. C., Poole, R., Feigenbaum, B., Purnell, S., Hillman, J.,  Nastasi, V., Feigenbaum, B., Purnell, S., Hillman, J., Scribner, M., & O’Toole,  R. (2020, February 21). The Economics of Space: An Industry Ready to  Launch. Reason Foundation.  

8. Amadeo, Kimberly. “NASA Budget, Current Funding, History, and Economic  Impact.” The Balance, 30 Aug. 2020.  www.thebalance.com/nasa-budget-current-funding-and-history-3306321.

What is the purpose of space exploration?