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Author Topic: Why we spend money on space exploration when we have so many problems here ?  (Read 2663 times)

Offline mscientist9

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Offline alancalverd

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Who "we"?

Some people solve their problems by giving money to the church, others prefer horses, drugs and prostitutes.
 

Offline lightarrow

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"Why we spend money on space exploration when we have many problems here?"
And do you really believe that if "we" didn't spend money for space exploration "we" would spend them for solving problems here?

--
lightarrow
 

Offline Bill S

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Mscientist9, the “?” at the end of your OP may have been a bit misleading, and is no doubt responsible for the responses so far.

I suspect that by “we” you meant governments; if so, your question is a good one, and one to which the answer is very complex.  Personally, I doubt that the survival of humanity in the far future is high on the agenda of any government, but there are more short term considerations. 

Space exploration is just one of the range of scientific/technical areas from which improvements can come which benefit humanity.  Unfortunately, those who first feel the benefits are rarely those who need them most, but that’s a social problem, rather than a scientific one.

Money spent on space exploration is not literally thrown into space.  It provides work for thousands, and keeps large sums of money circulating, which is the essential basis of a healthy economy.  Again, it may be the less needy who benefit, but the solution to that is not likely to be stopping scientific progress.

The problems that really need to be addressed are things like distribution of wealth; persuading “big business” to pay their taxes; electing governments who actually care more about people at the lower end of the socio-economic scale than about making the rich richer.  Good luck with that; but that was not really your point, was it?
 
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Offline chiralSPO

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Amen to everything BillS said above!

An afterthought:

India spent less money sending a probe to Mars ($74 million) than Hollywood did making "The Martian" ($108 million). Go pester entertainers to spend money on solving world problems (cynic pipes up: "oh, wait, escapism from world problems fuels our hunger for shitty movies...")
 
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Offline sliderule

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apparently being able to do things in space has more prestige for the people who spend our tax money
Yes we do some worthwhile things in space based around our satellite technology
the rest IMO is pretty much a waste of high order people skills and money
 

Offline PmbPhy

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People seem to think that if we took the money that we spent on space exploration and spent it on "problems here" (whatever that means) that the problems here would go away. That's the wrong attitude to have. Our knowledge about the universe tells us a great deal about who we are and our place in the universe. Had I known nothing about the universe other than space then my beliefs and attitudes about it would be greatly altered and not for the better.

Consider the GPS system. Our knowledge about gravity came from our knowledge of the solar system, i.e. about gravity. The GPS system has saved a lot of innocent lives during war time as well as in other areas of life.
« Last Edit: 19/10/2015 07:04:10 by PmbPhy »
 

Offline evan_au

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Most of the money "we" spend on space exploration is actually spent on problems here.
An historical perspective:
  • Much of the money spent on rockets between 1000-1900AD was spent on blowing up enemy positions - although some of it was also spent on public entertainment. Rockets based on gunpowder could never reach space from Earth's surface.
  • Most of the money spent on rockets up to 1945 was spent on solving the problem that Hitler's tanks could not drive across the Channel. Some of these did reach the edge of space. Some countries are still in this invasion mentality.
  • Most of the money spent on space exploration up to around 1957 (Sputnik) was spent on delivering nuclear weapons to distant parts of the world. Some countries are still in this stage.
  • From Sputnik to Apollo (around 1970), most of it was spent on beating chests and saying very publicly "My rocket is bigger than yours, and I can blow you to smithereens from anywhere on Earth". Some countries are still in this stage.   
  • Now, after several iterations of a nuclear non-proliferation treaty, we have actually seen a reduction of the number of rocket launch sites on Earth; the rockets are being repurposed for launching civilian satellites, and their nuclear warheads are being used for commercial nuclear power (which is a net risk reduction).
  • NASA has a highly public civilian space exploration programme, which in recent years has hovered around 0.5% of US Government spending. What is not obvious is that the NRO spends far more, checking out what is happening here on the ground. It is likely that the same applies for most countries.
 
Most of the money spent on space is actually about things "down here". It's just debatable about whether this money is making the problems on Earth bigger or smaller...

Space exploration is not new - every society had their ideas about what the planets and stars were, and their positions provided guidance about when to plant crops. The Moon provided some ability to travel at night, long before the invention of the electric light...
  • In more recent years, weather satellites have saved $billions in early weather warnings and increased farm productivity
  • Communications satellites have allowed people to be more easily connected to people in other countries, breaking down some of the chauvinist ideologies that have caused so many of the problems on Earth.
  • Satellites observing the Sun are providing warnings of Coronal Mass Ejections which allow electricity utilities time to prepare their networks for the onslaught of low-frequency oscillations that can take down their power grid.
  • NASA has a long-term project to track Near-Earth Objects which could cause immense damage on Earth. Some private groups are proposing an observation satellite near Venus orbit that would be able to detect objects approaching from the direction of the Sun.
  • But they will need a far more extensive project to actually prevent a significant impact. Just one avoided impact could pay for the entire space program.
  • Have a look at the list of space launches to see how the nature of launches has changed over the years...

Personally, I think that people need a frontier to explore, to get their minds out of the rut in which they are stuck. This is why humanity now lives on every continent; space provides just such a new frontier. Now, if we can just avoid destroying any Indians, Africans or other Aborigines while we are out there, that will be a good thing!
 

Offline evan_au

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Many of the problems here are due to the inability of individuals and politicians to see over the horizon, past their local or national borders.

Capturing the iconic 1968 "Earthrise" image from Apollo 8 was a serendipitous event, recreated here.

Some have described this as a turning point in environmental consciousness, showing the Earth in its true context, where local and national boundaries are not even visible, and the limits of our livable environment are clearly delineated.

"A grand oasis in the vastness of space", indeed.
« Last Edit: 19/10/2015 12:21:02 by evan_au »
 

Offline Thebox

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The simplistic answer is to assure a future of the human race, the earth will not last forever, food will not last forever, if we can develop deep space travel we may discover new worlds we could populate.
That is why.
 

Offline naresh_kr

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dear scientists & frnz... Spending money on space exploration may lead us to know about aliens one day!.. definitely i believe. It may protect our world from aliens invasion in future !...it's an approach to solve future problems... Every thing we can imagine will become real one day... So come on, we shall explore space more & more.
 

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