The space age began as a race for security and prestige between two superpowers. The opportunities were boundless, and the decades that followed have seen a radical transformation in the way we live our daily lives, in large part due to our use of space. Space systems have taken us to other celestial bodies and extended humankind’s horizons back in time to the very first moments of the universe and out to the galaxies at its far reaches. Satellites contribute to increased transparency and stability among nations and provide a vital communications path for avoiding potential conflicts.
Space systems increase our knowledge in many scientific fields, and life on Earth is far better as a result. The utilization of space has created new markets; helped save lives by warning us of natural disasters, expediting search and rescue operations, and making recovery efforts faster and more effective; made agriculture and natural resource management more efficient and sustainable; expanded our frontiers; and provided global access to advanced medicine, weather forecasting, geospatial information, financial operations, broadband and other communications, and scores of other activities worldwide .
Space systems allow people and governments around the world to see with clarity, communicate with certainty, navigate with accuracy, and operate with assurance. The legacy of success in space and its transformation also presents new challenges. When the space age began, the opportunities to use space were limited to only a few nations, and there were limited consequences for irresponsible or unintentional behavior. Now, we find ourselves in a world where the benefits of space permeate almost every facet of our lives.
The growth and evolution of the global economy has ushered in an ever-increasing number of nations and organizations using space. The now ubiquitous and interconnected nature of space capabilities and the world’s growing dependence on them mean that irresponsible acts in space can have damaging consequences for all of us. For example: Decades of space activity have littered Earth’s orbit with debris; and as the world’s space-faring nations continue to increase activities in space, the chance for a collision increases correspondingly.
As the leading space-faring nation, the United States is committed to addressing these challenges. But this cannot be the responsibility of the United States alone. All nations have the right to use and explore space, but with this right also come responsibility. The United States, therefore, calls on all nations to work together to adopt approaches for responsible activity in space to preserve this right for the benefit of future generations. From the outset of humanity’s ascent into space, this Nation declared its commitment to enhance the welfare of humankind by cooperating with others to maintain the freedom of space.
The United States hereby renews its pledge of cooperation in the belief that with strengthened international collaboration and reinvigorated U. S. Leadership, all nations and peoples—space-faring and space-benefiting—will find their horizons broadened, their knowledge enhanced, and their lives greatly improved Advocates of space exploration often get asked the question: “Why should we spend money on NASA when there is an abundance of problems here on Earth? ” Universe Today has been compiling a list of responses to this question by space-bloggers from across the web.
Check it out, there are some great answers. In response to Universe Today’s call for answers, we decided to compile a list of our top reasons that space exploration is a worthwhile endeavor. I also encourage everyone to read The Case for Space Exploration, a collection of essays and articles put together by the Space Foundation. As our telescopes probe the depths of space and time and our spacecraft missions reveal the scale and diversity of worlds even within our own solar system, we are provided with a humbling sense of our place in the universe.
Carl Sagan expressed the significance of this perspective in a beautiful passage in his book Pale Blue Dot. You can also listen to Sagan himself read the passage in this video clip. The world would be a better place if everyone watched that video. 2. Protecting and Understanding our World – * NASA’s Earth Science division helps us understand the fantastically complex world that we live on. * Studying other worlds like Venus and Mars teaches us how special our planet is, and provides sobering examples of how the climates of planets can change.
* NASA-funded research scans the skies for dangerous asteroids, and missions to asteroids teach us how we might be able to divert them from a collision course, should the need arise. The Apollo missions inspired an entire generation of students to pursue math and science careers. As our society becomes more technology-dependent, the populace needs to become scientifically literate to keep up. Telling students that “You could be the first astronaut on Mars! ” or “You could be the one driving the next Mars rovers! ” is a pretty effective way of inspiring them to study science and math.
NASA does not launch buckets of cash into space. The majority of the money spent on space exploration goes toward the salaries of thousands of skilled American workers who make NASA’s missions so successful. For more on this, and its connection to the recent Mars rover budget scare, check this post. To be human is to be an explorer. It is part of who we are: since the first tribes left the African savanna and spread into Europe and Asia, we have had the need to explore the unknown. Now humans have visited or settled every corner of the globe.
The instinct to explore is still active, but there are very few outlets. Some people seek out extreme or exotic places to satisfy this need, risking their lives to do so. Others look to the skies. It may be an old cliche, but Star Trek had it right: Space is the final frontier, and it calls to the explorer in all of us. Space exploration brings together a lot of smart people from many different fields and puts them to work on some very difficult problems. The result is not only fantastic scientific discoveries, but also many useful inventions.
From healthier baby food to technology to better diagnose breast cancer, to farther flying golf balls, NASA technology is all around you. Check here for an extensive list. How did life begin? How did the universe begin? How was our world created? Are we alone? These questions and others have been asked by every generation since the dawn of time. That we can even ask them is a testament to the power of the human brain. Now, because we are smart enough and bold enough to explore the universe, we are finding the answers.
In the words of Carl Sagan, “We are starstuff contemplating the stars. ” Large space exploration projects are almost always the result of international cooperation. TheInternational Space Station is the most obvious example, but the space shuttle regularly has astronauts from other nations, and many robotic missions include instruments built by teams in other countries. As NASA gears up to return to the moon, precursor missions from Japan, India,China and Russia are already in orbit, are planned, or are under construction.
Future human Mars missions will almost certainly involve multiple space agencies to spread the cost among several nations. 9. Long-term Survival – As it stands, all of humanity’s eggs are in one small basket called “Earth”. It is only a matter of time before something happens to our planet that is so devastating that it changes the course of life as we know it. Whether the disaster is natural, like a rogue comet, or self-inflicted, like nuclear war, it is possible that our home will no longer be habitable. What happens, then, to all of the accomplishments of the last thousand generations of humans?
All of our art, our music, our literature, our science, even our very genes could be wiped out. Unless, of course, there are a few humans living elsewhere in the solar system. Space exploration and colonization of the Moon and Mars are an insurance policy for humanity and all of our achievements. That’s what we came up with. We think that, based on the reasons above, it is certainly worth it to spend 0. 60% of the national budget (just six out of every thousand dollars) on NASA. We’re interested to hear what you think. Is the investment in NASA worth it?