IntroductionIn a 1962 speech to President John F Kennedy said “We choose to go to the Moon! … 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…”(Kennedy). National pride, scientific advancement, and economic development are the core of the space program in the United States. Government funding for the exploration of space has the ability to boost national pride, foster communication between the multiple nations represented in Space, and grow the economy in areas that support space programs. In the United States the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is responsible for the implementation of America’s outer space missions. The agency was formed by the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act.
In 2010 President Barack Obama signed an official statement declaring the U.S’s space priorities (National Space), the policy was largely kept by President Trump with one change, making returning to the Moon and putting a man on Mars a priority (Wang). The 2010 policy statement establishes the goals of the United States in space as “expanding international cooperation…”, “strengthening stability in space…”,”furthering scientific development…”, and “energizing domestic industries…”.EconomicGovernment funding for space exploration has many potential economic upsides including boosts to manufacturing and tech industry. According to a 2013 NASA report on the socioeconomic impact of NASA, five billion dollars are spent on domestic manufacturing and two billion dollars are spent on science and technology (Tauri). This is directly in line with the U.S’s stated priorities in space of boosting the economy and furthering scientific development. NASA’s funding has also directly affected the development of new technologies; according to the same 2013 report projects like propulsion systems have led to better, faster, safer air transportation.
Robotic projects have led to advances in robotic surgery, IED disposal, and automated vehicles. NASA pioneering space flights have also opened up space as a business venue. Corporations like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Boeing have begun a new, corporate, space race.
NASA pioneered space flight and now corporations have the opportunity to make money exploring and supplying space exploration. According to a recent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing Elon Musk’s SpaceX has raised another 100 million dollars bringing its total valuation to nearly 21.5 billion dollars (Kharpal). Without support from the Federal Government it is impossible to know whether these industries would exist.Inspiring the American PeopleNASA has always had an impact on the national pride of the U.S., the space race was, after all, an attempt to best the Soviet Union into Space. In an era of popularity defined by how many twitter followers one has NASA and its subsidiaries have more twitter followers than almost every other federal agency at four million followers for the @NASA account and 12 million followers for its combined accounts (Tauri).
This influence causes intense national pride when the U.S. succeeded in Space. The New York Times printed one of its largest headlines ever the day Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon. (National Aeronautic).
The inspiration provided by space travel according to a paper by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISEGC) can perspective on the uniqueness of life on Earth. Yuri Garagin and John Glenn’s space flights inspired people to look beyond what they could see, this inspiration is credited with drastically increasing the number of PhDs to nearly 4500 in the Physical Sciences at its peak prior to Apollo 17 in 1972. These PhDs offer high paying jobs, boosting the economy, and leading to innovation in technical and manufacturing sectors.InnovationThe U.S.
Government has a major stake in funding innovation and research through the NIH (National Institute of Health), CDC (Centers for Disease Control), and NASA. Innovations as a result of space exploration include advances in the fields of robotics, safety, and medicine. These and other technological advances made by NASA are in line once again with the U.S.’s Space Policy to “Pursue human and robotic initiatives to develop innovative technologies, foster new industries…” (National Space) NASA’s Technological Transfer Program to transfer the technology NASA creates to the private. As reported by the Office of the Chief Technologist for NASA technologies created by NASA employees or technology include memory foam, digital image sensors, anti-gravity treadmills, aerogel for shoe inserts, enhanced baby formula, and precision GPS. But arguably the most used, most famous NASA invention is the Microbial Check Valve water filter.
As Elaine Marconi of NASA’s JFK Space Center reports, this filter invented during the 1970s by a partnership of Oregon’s Umpqua Research Co. The tech was spurred on by a need to purify drinking water for Astronauts aboard Shuttle missions and eventually the ISS. As spaceflight become longer URC developed the Regenerable Biocide Delivery Unit, both technologies are being used to purify drinking water across the country and around the world bringing clean drinking water to places where it would be contaminated by any number of chemicals and diseases. All the technologies have had a major impact on the U.
S. economy. Companies like Virgin Galactic, Boeing, and SpaceX use technology pioneered by NASA to open up Space for commerce.ConclusionThe future of Space Exploration will be linked with funding from the Federal Government.
NASA’s benefits far outweigh its cost not only does it bolster the economy, it provides a source of inspiration and national pride for the American people a benefit often overlooked by opponents of NASA. The technological innovation required to explore space has created many new fields of study and commercial applications. The future of space exploration lies in cooperation between public and private sector businesses. This will allow Congress to change NASA funding while still maintaining control over the Space Program. For all the exploration that has taken place, there are still secrets held in Space for us to discover. Exposing these secrets may answer questions about the origin of Humans, of Earth, and of the Universe itself.