The Why Behind Space Travel

Did you know that we wouldn’t have velcro without space exploration? On their missions, the astronauts needed something that they could attach their tools to so that they would not float away in space’s zero gravity. Things like velcro are good examples of why we should explore space. Although some people believe that we should not devote anything, or very little to space exploration because of the mental and physical risks and effects it can cause to astronauts. However, even with these risks, we should still make the effort for space exploration because of the new things and opportunities it gives us. It costs less of the federal budget than you think, and it helps with human curiosity.

First, humans can benefit from the discoveries and opportunities of space travel. One of these things is SMAP, a satellite that Mark Rober worked on while at NASA. In his video “Is NASA a waste of money?” he tells you what the satellite does. He says, “And it’s using a radiometer that can see through the clouds to measure the soil moisture levels on Earth. This is important because soil moisture is one of the key vital signs of the plant. By measuring the moisture levels in the soil, it allows you to predict droughts, monitor floods, and even predict crop yield for a given year.” We can use satellites to help us here on Earth by predicting things that can have a major impact. Things like this are all things that we can only be able to benefit from. A second benefit is finding discoveries about our solar system, like those made by the New Horisions spacecraft that was observing Pluto. The author of “Leaving Main Street” explains, “As a result of the mission, scientists discovered that Pluto is not just a giant ball of ice. It was a molten core, tectonic plates, and volcanic activity, just as Earth does. It may even support some form of life. The New Horisions mission had been hailed as triumph of human ingenuity, and a huge leap forward for the future of space exploration” (2). This tells us that we can learn more about the planets in our solar system. These discoveries and new technologies show that we can only benefit from space exploration.

Secondly, space exploration provides many benefits for not that much money. Many discoveries have been found from space travel, including the New Horizons mission to Pluto which mapped out Pluto more accurately than ever before. It’s also how satellites have helped a lot in mapping out the Earth and are the reason why we have GPS. The SMAP satellite has been able to predict things like crop growth here on Earth. All of this for not that much of the federal budget. The author of “Leaving Main Street” explains, “At the cost of six-tenths of a percent of the federal budget, it’s well worth the price: The cost of exploration is vastly outweighed by the idea of extending humankind’s sphere of influence to outer space” (5) Space exploration only cost six-tenths of a percent of the federal budget, the outcome of it is mainly positive. Mark Rober also says something similar in his video “Is NASA a Waste of Money?” he says, “If your say the total budget represents a dollar or 100 penises. The truth is that NASA gets less than one-half of one penny. For comparison, 16% goes to the military and 60% goes to social programs like Social Security, unemployment, Medicare and healthcare.” So, NASA gets less than most think it does with the less and one percent that it’s given of the federal budget, and it accomplishes a lot. In the end, NASA does do a lot with their relatively small budget.

The third reason is that space exploration helps with human curiosity. Humans are naturally curious, and space is something that we are curious about. Humans want to know why that happened, where it happened, what’s over there, and many other things, including wanting to know more about space. Like Michael Griffin says in "Leaving Main Street," "If we stop exploring space, soon society will have forgotten what it’s like to be human. It’s human to wonder about things we can't see, to wonder for what’s over the horizon." (12). It’s natural for humans to be curious, it’s one of those things that are wired into us and has been there forever. Curiosity is human. Mark Rober also shares how humans may explore space for other reasons other than money. "Not necessarily because there’s some financial incentive or some quick payoff we’re looking to exploit, but because as humans there are fundamental burning questions we’re eager to answer." Sometimes, people do not explore space because they want the money that may be a result of it, but because they have questions that they want to get answered. The third and final reason that I have to support space exploration is human curiosity, and the desire to know more about space.

Although, with all of these reasons why space exploration is good and humans should explore space, there are many risks, both physically and mentally. There are currently things that are in place and that are being looked at and in place to prevent or treat the risks and their side effects. In “Fire Hazards of Humans Spaceflight”, Melanie Whiting and Laurie Abadie explain, “NASA’s Human Research Program remains committed to preserving the health and vitality of the crew that will someday touch down upon Mars. While these five hazards present significant challenges, they also offer opportunities for growth and innovation in technology, medicine, and our understanding of the human body.” (18). Even with the risks to space travel, NASA is working on ways to make there be fewer risks, and even on the way, there may be discoveries that emerge out of it.

We should devote time and effort to space exploration because of the new things and opportunities that can come out of it. Like the SMAP satellite which helps us out here on Earth, and it helped accurately map out Pluto. It doesn’t cost that much of the federal budget, less than 1%. Lastly, because humans are naturally curious, we want to explore space and answer so many burning questions while doing so.

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