Is Space Travel Worthwhile?
Ever since we have started space exploration there has been a been a debate as to whether space travel is worthwhile. I will investigate the positives and negatives of space travel.

1. New technological advances - Space travel is key in advancing our technologies because it brings together a lot of smart people from all over the world. Some of the technologies we use everyday are “spin-off” technologies from NASA. Some of the most important technologies that have come from NASA research include the artificial heart, used to save people with heart attacks, solar energy, possibly the future in a world without oil, and even home insulation and heating, essential to our everyday lives. 2. Source of inspiration - For many children, astronauts are a source of inspiration. Saying “You could be the first person on Mars” or “You could discover the next big thing” is a pretty inspiring way of teaching children science or math. 3. A way of collaborating with other nations - Space exploration can only happen when nations worldwide collaborate and build relationships between one another. Take the International Space Station (ISS) for example, it is built out of American, Russian, Japanese, Canadian, Brazilian, and European parts and is regularly being serviced by astronauts from many of these nations. In the future, nations collaborating together will be vital for us to make further discoveries and possibly for our existence. 4. Understanding our universe - As our world grows everyday, human beings always want to discover and understand the “space” we live in. There is yet much to learn about space and we are only beginning to grasp the complexity and vastness of it. How did the universe begin? Are we alone? Is there another planet like Earth out there? 5. Protecting our planet - NASA research scans the area around Earth for asteroids in case of collision with Earth and works out ways to stop them. Exploring the solar system also helps space agencies determine if something poses a threat to Earth or not. 6. Economic growth - When NASA or other space agencies receive a budget from the government they don’t just spend it on the space equipment, it actually goes into research and development (R&D) and to the salaries of all the employes of that agency. This means they are not really wasting money by putting it all into a spacecraft but right here on Earth. By creating thousands of jobs, not only in NASA but also in the aeroplane and other non-space related businesses, they actually boost the economy. For example in the US, for every dollar spent (by the government) on R&D in the US Space Programme, they receive seven dollars back in the form of taxes from increased income levels of jobs. All this money invested in the space industry, leads to all of these brilliant minds and new technologies that appear frequently from NASA. This also boosts the economy and lifestyle of many people around the world as well as saving countless lives. 7. Long-term survival of the human race - Last but not least, space travel may be important for the long-term survival of the human race. One theory is that sooner or later, something will happen to Earth, be it a nuclear war or an asteroid impact. What would happen to the accomplishments of the human race? Some people believe that unless we find a way to colonize the Moon, Mars or even a planet from another “solar system”, that very well may be the end of the human race.

1. The money could be spent elsewhere - All the money spent on space programmes could be used to tackle the many problems here on Earth. For example, money is required today to set up education & health programmes for countries that can’t afford them, as well as tackling today’s pollution and global warming problems. 2. Discovery of extraterrestrial beings or foreign material could be dangerous - In the event of the discovery of aliens (extraterrestrial beings), they might actually prove to be quite dangerous to human beings. Similarly there is the more likely situation of the discovery of an alien material that may be harmful to human beings. Both can be equally dangerous and could be avoided if space agencies stopped exploring space. 3. Improving the military and not society - Space exploration has in the past been used for military purposes and could have been quite deadly in the wrong hands. One of the reasons the US set up a space mission to the Moon was the fear that the Russians could launch a nuclear weapon from space. By sending a man a man to the moon the US appeared to be ahead in the Cold War.

In my opinion...
I think that there is there is a reason why governments worldwide spend vast amounts of money on their respective space programmes. It helps us fulfill our desire to explore the universe we live in and also becomes a source of inspiration for the younger generation. Space travel is one way of making sure our Earth stays in one piece, our economies are boosted, and our technologies improve and innovate. We often hear from those who have gone into space how it inspired them to view the world as one planet, and this is also true when we view the photographs taken from space. It forces us to collaborate and form relationships with other nations, and helps us understand the complexity and vastness of the universe we live in. Although it does require small portions of nation’s budgets to run our space programmes, I believe we must explore the universe more in order to discover the worlds waiting for us.

By Zinzan Gurney 7A

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