Is Space Exploration Really Worth It?

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Carissa Ring, Author

With Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX’s recent launch on December 18th 2021 space exploration has been on many people’s minds. Should we be spending money on space instead of our planet’s problems? 

Many people who disagree with space exploration believe that we should spend our money on helping fix problems on our own planet. As of 2021 the United States spent 92 billion dollars on space exploration. Many believe that this money should go towards prominent American problems such as global warming. Others who disagree with space exploration believe that we should also spend that money on exploring our own planet. 80 percent of the ocean is left unexplored, so that leaves many possibilities out there. They argue that understanding all of our planet should be prioritized over exploring other planets. 

With the recent outbreak of COVID people have felt less secure about their food situations. According to Feeding America, “ 42 million people (1 in 8), including 13 million children (1 in 6), may experience food insecurity in 2021.” It doesn’t sit right with many that space exploration still receives money during these difficult times. NASA gets .5% of government funding but despite this small number this still totals out to 23.3 billion dollars, as of 2021. President Biden is proposing that NASA gets a 6.6% increase in government funding during 2022, which tallies to 24.8 billion dollars.  Ella Adams, a college student, a firm believer we shouldn’t put so much money into space exploration, believes that US tax dollars should be better used, “Our tax dollars should be spent on us- improving our infrastructure, helping the poor, bettering education, and solving climate change.” 

Those who are for space exploration argue that the space exploration program is beneficial and is worth all the money that the US puts into it. Tiger Sun claims,” Each dollar that goes into NASA adds $7-14 to the economy.” They also say that by having exclusive knowledge of space we will be better prepared for dangerous situations. If there was an asteroid coming towards Earth, the United States would be prepared to destroy it. Exploring space also inspires children to pursue careers in the field. Many astronauts had the dream at a young age which allowed it to carry over to adulthood.   

Many people bring up the point of innovation. Since America started exploring space new and improved technology has emerged.  NASA lists many technological advancements made due to space exploration, “Space exploration has contributed to many diverse aspects of everyday life, from solar panels to implantable heart monitors. From cancer therapy to light-weight materials, and from water purification systems to improved computer systems” NASA then goes over what they see as benefits as space exploration,”The direct benefits of exploration include the generation of scientific knowledge, the diffusion of innovation and creation of markets, the inspiration of people around the world, and agreements forged between the countries engaged in exploration.   Indirect benefits that result over time include tangible enhancements to the quality of life such as improved economic prosperity, health, environmental quality, safety, and security.”

I believe that we should be looking out for our own planet before others. With as many hardships we’ve had to face in recent years, COVID, increased poverty, etc. It would be more beneficial at this time to look out for our own planet. This is the only one we get, so we have to be gentle with it. America, along with the rest of the globe, should be focusing more on the problems we have on Earth, with a huge one being global warming. As of right now it would be better to focus on Earth instead of searching in space. Space exploration takes up too much funding, funding that could be used to decrease poverty levels, fund more medical institutions, or to solve problems occurring in the environment.