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Is Space Research Beneficial For Mankind, Or Is It A Waste Of Resources?

1644 words - 7 pages

Space exploration is the use of astronomy and space technology to explore outer space (NASA). Space research has over the years faced a significant amount of criticism with it being deemed as a "bad investment", or being something that should be kept at last priority compared to the rest of the issues the world faces today. Space research is misunderstood and its benefits underestimated.First of all people may criticize it as simply being a field in which developed countries with a lot of excess resources invest in order to "flex their muscles". In other words they deem it to be nothing more then a publicity stunt, being conducted by developed nations to show off their superiority, instead of it being actual scientific research. This can be easily refuted just by going over the huge level of technological advancements that have come about through space research.Again skeptics criticize it by pointing out that the technology used in space research is simply too specialized and expensive to be used anywhere else. Though it is true that these technologies are often very expensive, it is only because space research programs act as nurseries for emerging technologies. It is in these programs that these technologies and the methods of production of their related products get perfected. With time and further perfection of these production processes of these technologies they become inexpensive and are adapted for many more applications. An example of one such technology is that of solar panels. Solar panels were first used outside laboratoryconditions in 1955, for producing power for space satellites (Perlin). At the time, because of their low efficiency and high cost, they did not seem like a practical source of energy for any other purpose. This view was also prevalent at the time because of the fact that fossil fuel prices at the time were comparatively low. With the progress of time Solar panels got cheaper and much more efficient. With the rise in fossil fuel prices, Solar panels today are one of the technologies that can help solve the resulting energy crisis. In fact large photovoltaic power plants have already been built in Germany, with some produce up to 5 mega-watts of power (Perlin).Space research has lead to the presence of several man-made satellites in space. This in turn has made possible great advancements in the fields of communication and data gathering. Results of these advancements include the ability to perform broadband data transfers around the world, satellite imaging, and GPS (Global Positioning System). With the help of some of these technologies we can now monitor the surface of the Earth with great accuracy. It is thanks to these monitoring abilities that we have been able to predict the path of storms and set up early warning systems which have in turn helped save thousands lives (Hunt, 214).With the advent of these new technologies many new markets have opened up for private corporations to venture in. Private corporations...

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