Space exploration should be funded at even greater levels than at present. It has provided scientific, technological, and economic benefits for all mankind. Furthermore it will continue to provide these benefits as long as we continue to explore.
The American space program as well as the United States economy is facing many challenges at this time but we need to look at what the long term costs of not continuing a robust manned and unmanned space program will be. The solar system holds many mysteries and an untold amount of untapped resources that if not explored and utilized by the United States will be utilized by other Nations. With finite resources on Earth any nation that is able to tap into new resources will be at a tremendous advantage both economically and politically. Space exploration also has positive international benefits as well as inspiring young people to enter careers in science. Kofi Annan the United Nations Secretary General at the time stated: "....space exploration can help bring cultures together. Space is also helping us to address some of today's most urgent problems. Space technology has produced tools that are transforming weather forecasting, environmental protection, humanitarian assistance, education, medicine, agriculture and a wide range of other activities. And, of course, a fascination with space leads many young people to pursue careers in science and technology, helping developing countries in particular to build up their human resources, improve their technological base and enhance their prospects for development" (Driscoll, 2003, 68)
Beyond the economic and political aspects space exploration is a great catalyst for technological development and of course scientific discovery. If we neglect space exploration our technological and scientific advancement will be hindered and lag far behind those Nations that do continue to explore and utilize space. Our loss of standing as the number one space faring nation will also greatly impact the nation on a psychological level. Americans have always been pioneers, innovators, and technological leaders; if we lose that standing it could cause a national identity crisis. Now we will break down the costs and benefits of the United States space program to help us better understand whether or not we should continue to fund it with taxpayer money.
Space Exploration: Scientific Benefits
The purely scientific benefits of space exploration and research have been vast. These advancements have influenced everything from communications, earth sciences, weather prediction, astrophysics, astronomy, planetary research (Moon, Mars, etc.), archaeology, solar research, asteroids and comets, environmental sciences, and medical science. The world today would be a poorer place without the scientific advancements achieved through space exploration and research.
Scientific research has not only come from NASA or other national space agencies. Commercial space operations are...