Since its conception, space exploration has captured the imaginations of many in a limitless frontier, where ingenuity is unbound and social barriers do not hinder humanity’s collective quest for knowledge; however, when considering the implications of space exploration, advocates must acknowledge the financial costs of frequent space travel, the exploitation of other-worldly resources, and disease contamination of other planets. Despite these various oppositions to the advancement of space exploration, its benefits have far surpassed its costs as space exploration has benefited the American economy, aided in groundbreaking research, and allowed for countries across the globe to collaborate and improve their diplomatic relations with one another.
David Livingston, a space exploration advocate and enthusiast, states that the advantages of space exploration offsets its cost. He postulates that the money spent for space exploration is naturally dispersed back into the American economy, which in turn aids in medical research, the building of houses, and so on (Livingston). He proceeds to further accentuate his argument by articulating the pureness of space as a frontier untouched by human greed and conflict and, therefore, is an exemplary environment that can become future grounds for increased collaboration between nations without the hindrance of foreign conflicts and special interest groups that have long prevented beneficial diplomatic relations (Livingston). This claim is further promoted by Michael Collins, one of the first men to ever visit space, as he states that if influential figures such as politicians were to view the Earth free from the chains of preconceptions and prejudice then space exploration could reinvigorate humanity’s zeal for environmental conservation and inspire the average Joe to protect and nurture their fragile, terrestrial home. By unifying under the undefiled frontier of space, not only would nations from all over the world improve their relations with one another but tackle the issue of Earth’s rapidly dwindling natural resources by revitalizing conservation efforts through combined collaborations.
The Tax Foundation presents a visual representation of how each federal tax dollar is spent. In support of Livingston’s argument, the data presented in the graph presented by Tax Foundation exhibits that only about $0.06 of the federal tax dollar is actually spent on space exploration in comparison to other categories such as social security, where most of the tax dollar is spent. Along with the low percentage space exploration takes up in a federal tax dollar, other categories, such as agriculture, must share the $0.06 with “space and technology” (Chamberlain). The small proportion space exploration truly occupies is further supported by the evidence the claims made by Margaret McLean, an author for the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, emphasizes the outrage many American citizens feel when the government spends approximately five billion dollars in grants in order to fund NASA. In comparison to other government expenditures, however, the funding for NASA occupies less than one percent of American taxes (McLean). Americans often forget that without the fresh discoveries space exploration provides, inventions – such as the GPS – that society so heavily relies upon would no longer be feasible or even accessible.
Margaret McLean highlights the issues within space exploration by bringing in both sides of the space exploration argument. McLean asserts that humanity should cautiously expand their presence in the solar system through the process of stewardship, where humans act as the “responsible managers” of the “final frontier.” Although space is boundless and inexhaustible, McLean emphasizes the preservation of space through sustainability in order to prevent the destruction of alien habitats and repetition of the same environmental mistakes humans have made on Earth. Through a combination of statistical data and sensible solutions to the issues arising from space exploration, McLean demonstrates her credibility as a source in addition to providing strong evidence for Livingston’s claims.
From the National Institute of Health, details the varying levels the NIH aid in investigating new methods of preventing disease in addition to the locating the “causes, treatments, and […] cures for […] diseases.” The medical field is an ideal area for innovation and health organizations, such as the NIH, are constantly searching for superior and more cost-effective techniques with which doctors can treat debilitating diseases like cancer. These scientists and doctors are restricted to the resources found on Earth and, oftentimes, must contemplate new approaches in treating rare diseases as old methods are ineffective and too costly; however, space exploration can assist in medical research by potentially unearthing a microorganism or pathogen that can help combat deadly diseases, possibly providing future data that could lead to the development of a vaccine. NASA also supports groundbreaking medical research by engaging in their own studies as collaborations with doctors like renowned heart surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey have given way to one of the most valuable inventions to a populous wrought with heart disease, the artificial heart pump.
Space exploration and technology have many underlying implications and is often met with general opposition from an oblivious public; however, the surveying of space has allowed humanity to establish a common ground where nations can improve their diplomatic relations with one another as well as assist in discovering groundbreaking medical research. As stewards of the “final frontier,” humanity must now responsibly nurture and conserve the inexhaustible boundaries of space, allowing future generations to further understand and enjoy our home, our Earth.