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The 11 Main Benefits of Space Exploration

Updated on March 18, 2018
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Paul has been fascinated by space travel since the 70's. Born and educated in the UK, he now works as a freelance writer in central Florida.

The Martian space rover, Curiosity.  The rover was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on November 26, 2011.  Its goals include investigating the Martian climate, geology, and finding out whether the planet once had water and life.
The Martian space rover, Curiosity. The rover was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on November 26, 2011. Its goals include investigating the Martian climate, geology, and finding out whether the planet once had water and life. | Source

The funding of space exploration is a contentious issue with both enthusiasts and detractors arguing over the relative merits.

People who are in favor of it argue that the expense is outweighed by the many benefits. These range from scientific breakthroughs to educational and commercial gains.

Opponents to space exploration will usually object to it on grounds of expense, essentially arguing that the vast sums involved in funding space exploration far outweigh any of the associated positives. They will often say that the money could be better spent on health, social care, or infrastructure.

Below are the eleven main benefits of space exploration, stating the main positives pointed out by people who are in favor of having an active and developing space program.

1. New Discoveries

Space exploration is pretty much unique in that it has so much potential for brand new discoveries. Solving some of the mysteries of the universe could have untold positive effects on the development of humanity. There are no other ways of finding out certain things about our universe without space exploration.

Astronauts are inherently insane. And really noble.

— Andy Weir

2. Understanding Earth

Discovering things about other planets in our Solar System can also provide valuable insights into how the Earth and its lifeforms might have begun and developed. It also presents clues as to what sort of conditions are needed for life to flourish, useful when deciding which planets to investigate outside of our solar system.

Space shuttle lift-off.  Technology developed for the shuttle missions is now used in everyday life.  Breakthrough technologies include those employed in computer electronics, medical treatments, and aviation safety.
Space shuttle lift-off. Technology developed for the shuttle missions is now used in everyday life. Breakthrough technologies include those employed in computer electronics, medical treatments, and aviation safety. | Source

3. Innovation

It is an engine for innovation and creativity, sparking scientific breakthroughs. Space technology adapted for use in everyday life includes devices or materials used in computer electronics, medical treatments, and aviation safety.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed.

— Neil Armstrong

4. Energy Sources

The stars in general, and our Sun in particular, have massive potential as a future energy source. Especially if we can understand how they create energy using nuclear fusion. If we could tap its power, or imitate the way that the Sun works, even in a very small way, we would have enormous amounts of energy for thousands and thousands of years.

5. Skilled Jobs

Space exploration contributes to a high-tech economy and creates highly paid jobs. The modern world is increasingly science driven and the investment would pay off many times over.

Man works on a jet engine.  Space exploration creates many high-tech jobs, most of them well paid.  In a world which is increasingly science and technology driven, space exploration can play a wider role in developing technologies.
Man works on a jet engine. Space exploration creates many high-tech jobs, most of them well paid. In a world which is increasingly science and technology driven, space exploration can play a wider role in developing technologies. | Source

6. Adventure

It feeds mankind’s sense of adventure. It is in our nature to explore, and now that the Earth is familiar to us (with the exception of the deep oceans and certain remote areas), we must look outwards into the Solar System and beyond. To search, investigate, and colonize is our destiny.

It is in mankind's nature to explore.  Now that most of our home planet has been investigated and mapped, it is natural that we expand our horizons and explore other planets, solar systems and astronomical bodies.
It is in mankind's nature to explore. Now that most of our home planet has been investigated and mapped, it is natural that we expand our horizons and explore other planets, solar systems and astronomical bodies. | Source

7. Human Colonization

Many scientists, including the late astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, have argued that humanity needs to colonize space as quickly as possible. That's because they believe that at some point humanity will suffer a catastrophic event, like the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. Humans will then need space colonies to survive as a race. Other destructive events might include an epidemic of a killer disease, drastic climate change, or a global nuclear war.

Sooner or later, everybody dreams of other worlds.

— J. Aleksandr Wootton

8. Disaster Prevention

Studying the movement of asteroids, comets, and other bodies in space may help us to avoid a future disaster caused by a collision, major comic event, or other dramatic change.

Concerns have been voiced over the possibility of an asteroid hitting the Earth and how science might be able to stop that happening.  Asteroids have hit the Earth in the past, most notably the one which is thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs.
Concerns have been voiced over the possibility of an asteroid hitting the Earth and how science might be able to stop that happening. Asteroids have hit the Earth in the past, most notably the one which is thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs. | Source

9. Promotes Science

Another benefit of space exploration is that it raises the profile of science, math, technology, and inspires young people to get involved with these subjects. All of which are vital to the economic and wider well being of a modern society.

10. Search For Life

Space exploration may well enable us to discover life on other planets, or even one day make contact with other intelligent life-forms. That would certainly be a huge development in the history of mankind.

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.

— John F. Kennedy

11. Space Tourism

Space tourism is a growing industry which promises to make space travel more accessible to the wider populace. Although costs are prohibitively expensive right now and only available to the super rich, over time they are likely to drop as the technology becomes cheaper. Space tourism also brings more money into the space industry.

Astronaut from the space shuttle: Discovery.  One of three NASA orbiters, Discovery was in service for more than 27 years.  It launched and landed 39 times, more spaceflights than any other spacecraft before it or since.
Astronaut from the space shuttle: Discovery. One of three NASA orbiters, Discovery was in service for more than 27 years. It launched and landed 39 times, more spaceflights than any other spacecraft before it or since. | Source

Decreasing the budget on the space exploration is nothing but a great treason to humanity! Space exploration is closely related to our very existence! Cut the budget on other things and increase the budget on the space exploration! Think great; if you do not think great, universe annihilates you!

— Mehmet Murat ildan

Sources

  • Joan Lisa Bromberg NASA and the Space Industry. JHU Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-6532-9
  • Planetary demographics and space colonization; Nader Elhefnawy, The Space Review, February 2, 2009
  • Claire Jolly; Gohar Razi; Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2007). The space economy at a glance: 2007. OECD Publishing. ISBN 978-92-64-03109-8
  • Joan Lisa Bromberg (October 2000). NASA and the Space Industry. JHU Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-6532-9

© 2014 Paul Goodman

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