The Need for Space Exploration

Andrew Kim, Staff Writer

Since 1957, when the Soviet Union launched the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, the world has been locked in an increasing, dramatic technological race that has carried into the 21st century, and it looks to have no intention of stopping. In that same period, the effects caused by our fossil fuel consumption caught up to us, and many of the poorer countries, crippled by colonialism and imperialism, came to become even worse.  The world now faces the pressing questions in which the answers could seal humanity’s fate. Space or Earth? Even with all of its critics and low public opinion, space exploration is an important part of human development and should be an emphasized area of investment in order to solve the world’s problems.

People are not as familiar with the benefits of space exploration as private companies like SpaceX and Orbital are taking the lead to design rockets and further explore space. This has led people to question the real benefits of space exploration and call for the need to focus on our dying planet. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), space exploration has helped to create “advances in X-ray technologies that were developed to create NICER, a space station telescope, are helping unravel the mysteries of our universe while improving medical devices on Earth.” NASA has also cited that space exploration has helped with drugs and cancer treatment strategies, reducing ecostress and potential fires, developing artificial blood, 3D printing human tissue, and developing a lot more technologies.  Furthermore, space exploration has led to the discovery of new materials and resources that can be used to solve problems on Earth. For example, NASA’s Mars Rover mission discovered a mineral called hematite on the surface of Mars, which is a crucial ingredient in steel production. This discovery has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of steel production and make it more sustainable.

In addition to these practical benefits, space exploration also inspires and ignites curiosity in young minds. The Apollo moon landing in 1969 inspired a generation of scientists and engineers, many of whom went on to make significant contributions to society. The pursuit of space exploration encourages people to push the boundaries of what is possible and to think creatively and innovatively. This next generation of scientists has the potential to put their collaborative minds together in combined efforts to solve the worsening climate crisis by means of science, showing the massive impact space exploration has on society and the massive improvements they could bring in a variety of ways.

Of course, it is essential to acknowledge that there are still many challenges that need to be addressed on Earth, including climate change, poverty, and inequality. There are also many cited issues from Vittana, stating that “exploring space is a costly venture. In 1973, the total cost of the Apollo program was reported to the US Congress as being $25.4 billion. The total cost of the space shuttle program, when adjusted for inflation, was $196 billion. Each mission that was flown came at a cost of $450 million. The Mars One mission budget to bring just four people to Mars is over $6 billion.” Critics argue that the insane cost of space exploration should instead be invested in the various problems that are plaguing Earth today. However, space exploration is not an inhibitor to solving Earth’s problems and has instead shown remarkable benefits with various innovative technologies that have actually had an impact on many of Earth’s challenges. According to the World Economic Forum, “Satellites [could be used] to track weather patterns… [and] satellite imagery and climate data can also support other sectors such as agriculture and industry, with additional benefits to the communities they serve.” Space exploration has proven to be a critical defense against Earth’s problems while also allowing for the increased growth in human progress, showing a much more effective approach than some solutions simply focusing and staying on Earth.

Space exploration is a crucial area of investment that should not be neglected. It has already brought about many practical benefits to our daily lives, including advances in medicine and climate control. Moreover, it inspires and motivates people to push the boundaries of what is possible and can contribute to solving some of the world’s most pressing issues. It is not a choice necessarily between space or Earth but rather a balance between the two that will lead to a brighter future for all. Still, it is evident how important space exploration is and should ultimately be a priority for the many years of innovation to come.