The United States has explored space since as early as 1946 with various space technologies (Van Allen). Space technology has enabled the U.S. to explore the universe and discover much beyond planet Earth. Although we have made many successful launches to space several times, there are trade-offs assumed from utilizing space technology that was beneficial and quite costly. It is in our best interest that we continue to enhance our space technologies and continue our presence in outer space to uphold our leadership position. The U.S. dominates space exploration and utilization; in turn, this has afforded us military power, sustained our national security and provided us with economic advantage. The U.S. space program’s history is made up of many manned missions to space; manned missions have proven to be NASA’s greatest strength’s and greatest weaknesses in space exploration (Van Allen). It is important that we realize that human safety is critical to maintaining public and political support in space programs. There are many costs and benefits to space exploration; these measures weigh differently for the NASA, scientists and engineers, the military and corporations. However, realistically, without the constancy of fiscal support space programs cannot be carried out and the U.S. move towards better space vessels. In this essay I will explain the various costs and benefits of humans and space technologies’ presence in space and the viewpoints of the stakeholders on space exploration and innovation.
Congress mandated the funding of NASA in the early 1970s (Van Allen). Then the National Commission on Space was created to collaborate with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to oversee space exploration and space technology. During Ronald Reagan’s Presidency, the proposal for a manned space station was submitted to Congress (Van Allen). Officials from NASA estimated the space station’s “development costs at $8 billion in constant 1984 dollars, but true costs [would] probably be many times that preliminary figure” (Van Allen). President Reagan was in support of the implementation of the space station for the economical gains; as a political actor it was an attractive way to quickly gain public support (Van Allen). Supporters of this space station sought this as a “large-scale commercial manufacturing of exotic pharmaceuticals and crystal line materials in space” (Van Allen). The long-term goal of the space station was for it to be manned by humans; however, since the Apollo mission there has been a decline in political and public support for human space travel.
Over the years the U.S. has invested in multiple space technology programs. Much of the missions to space were accompanied by humans; however, there were many successful launches using durable space equipment too. Space exploration and utilization enhanced the U.S. military, economic
and scientific power. For example, “robot satellites in earth orbit have...