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Space Exploration (Advantages vs. Disadvantages)

Updated on September 25, 2014

" . . . The United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward, and so will space."—President John F. Kennedy, 1962

"In spite of the opinions of certain narrow-minded people, who would shut up the human race upon this globe, as within some magic circle which it must never outstep, we shall one day travel to the moon, the planets, and the stars, with the same facility, rapidity, and certainty as we now make the voyage from Liverpool to New York."—Jules Verne, From the Earth to the Moon, 1865

Space Travel in American History

By NASA via Wikimedia Commons
By NASA via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Space exploration is a huge part of American history, from July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon and won the “space race," all the way up to the Mars Rover programs. Yet, there are many opinions about whether space exploration is worthwhile. Some people feel that the disadvantages of a national space program far outweigh the benefits. Many others believe that space exploration should be continued at all costs, that it has proven to be beneficial in the past, and that it will continue to do so.

My opinion probably falls somewhere in the middle. I can understand all of the disadvantages, but I also believe that it has helped our country and our world in countless, irreplaceable ways. While there are many disadvantages to funding a space program, nearly all of them could be solved (or at least partially resolved) with a better understanding of space, better methods, and improved technology. How do we achieve these things? Experience. The more we explore space and experiment, the faster our technology and methods will evolve and the better we will understand our universe and planet.

It is a complex issue. I summarize the arguments for and against space exploration in the table below and go into more detail.

Some Pros and Cons of a Space Program at a Glance

Disadvantages
Advantages
Pollution of outer space
Inventions resulting from space research
Cost of funding space program
Jobs created by space program
Dangers to astronauts
Understanding of natural world

Disadvantages: Space Exploration and Pollution

One of the biggest concerns about space travel and exploration is the possibility of polluting space. There are people who argue that we are destroying space with all of the the old satellites, pieces of equipment, and rocket launch boosters that float aimlessly around the universe. This is indeed a huge problem. We are already polluting earth, and that has caused many problems. We cannot let the same thing happen to outer space.

Two recent events drastically increased the amount of space junk floating through the universe. The first took place in 2007 when the Chinese government tested a missile by smashing an old weather satellite, breaking the it into 150,000 pieces of debris. The next dramatic increase happened two years later, when two satellites crashed into one another.

A 2011 study by the National Research Council suggests all sorts of unusual techniques for cleaning up the space trash. While there are plenty of logistical and diplomatic hurdles before any of them can be tried, methods such as harpoons, nets, tethers, magnets, and even a giant umbrella could be used to essentially sweep up pieces of debris. One idea proposes that a satellite be fitted with nets that could be sprung on pieces of junk. Then an electromagnetic tether could either pull the junk down to a point where it would burn up harmlessly or boost it to safer orbit.

The High Cost of a National Space Program

Apollo 9 astronaut Dave Scott photographed on March 6, 1969. His crewmate Rusty Schweickart, lunar module pilot, took this photograph from the porch of the lunar module.
Apollo 9 astronaut Dave Scott photographed on March 6, 1969. His crewmate Rusty Schweickart, lunar module pilot, took this photograph from the porch of the lunar module. | Source

Another argument against funding a national space program is the very high cost. Some argue that our missions to space are not very cost effective, especially considering the current state of our economy. In 2011 NASA celebrated the 30th anniversary of the space shuttle program. At that time, that program was estimated to have cost $196.5 billion by the end of 2011.

The Dangers of Space Exploration

One of the most tragic accidents associated with the American space program is the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. On January 28, 1986 the space shuttle exploded just 73 seconds into its flight, killing the crew of seven on board. The shuttle program was put on hiatus for 32 months after the explosion.

With more experience, however, comes greater understanding, and with a greater understanding comes better, safer technology. So, once again, continuing to explore space could help mitigate the dangers.

Advantages: Innovations Developed Through Space Exploration

The Georgia Dome in Atlanta uses a Teflon-coated fiberglass as a permanent roofing material. The fabric was originally developed for astronaut uniforms.By Latics (Own work) via Creative Commons.
The Georgia Dome in Atlanta uses a Teflon-coated fiberglass as a permanent roofing material. The fabric was originally developed for astronaut uniforms.By Latics (Own work) via Creative Commons. | Source

Even with the disadvantages to space travel, research conducted by NASA to develop the American space program has benefited society in a number of ways. Discoveries related to space have helped advance medicine, transportation, public safety, consumer goods production, environmental and agricultural resource management, computer technology, and industrial productivity.

A few specific innovations developed as a result of space program research:

GPS technology

breast cancer test imaging

an artificial heart pump based on the design of NASA’s space shuttle main engine fuel pumps that supplements the heart’s pumping capacity in the left ventricle

a mechanical arm that allows surgeons to operate three instruments, while simultaneously performing laparoscopic surgery

a lightweight breathing system for firefighters, credited with significant reductions in inhalation injuries

Teflon-coated fiberglass developed in the 1970s as a new fabric for astronaut spacesuits has been used as a permanent roofing material for buildings and stadiums

Economic Benefits of Space Exploration

It is true that we could spend less money on our missions and make them more cost effective, but space exploration, research, and travel provides hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S.and even more worldwide.

If you think unemployment is bad now, imagine how it would be without space exploration!

Greater Scientific Understanding

One of the components of NASA's research involves satellite missions to observe the earth from a distance. This research helps scientists around the world understand the earth's atmosphere in order to improve weather and natural disaster predictions.

So far, earth is the only planet that we know is capable of sustaining life. Information generated by NASA's earth science satellites helps answer questions about whether earth can continue to sustain its growing population and about changes in our climate.

Space exploration plays a big part in our day-to-day life whether we know it or not. Yes, there are dangers and disadvantages, but if we continue to explore space, test technologies, and take some risks, I am sure that most of the problems can and will be fixed.

Of course, nothing about space exploration will ever be perfect, but nothing is ever completely risk free. In the past, space exploration has proven itself to be extremely beneficial and will continue to do so in the future just so long as we continue to work hard to make it better.

What do you think about space exploration?

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    • profile image

      nancy 3ajram 4 days ago

      i can imagine my selfu floating in space loooooooooooool that would be funny , love me please. i want to be a comedian one day but im too funny for people . i need love .touch me. i need you , in space with me babe . heart signs

    • profile image

      ria 6 weeks ago

      helpful site

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      ubuihgoiuh 8 months ago

      i like this riting

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      hiimawesome 8 months ago

      Thats really cool, I didn't know much of space and now i do. Thanks!.

    • profile image

      Faye 8 months ago

      In my opinion it is way to expensive to keep spending money on

    • profile image

      person123 8 months ago

      it helps understand why we should not fund it

    • profile image

      flickdawrist 10 months ago

      thx for this amazing article I needed it for school:) pretty amazing

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      Anoyonomousddddfsdf 10 months ago

      Thx for the info

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      happy person 11 months ago

      this helped a lot thx

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      The key 11 months ago

      This web sight credibility is not that good but I do think that you tried your absolut best so just keep working on it ok

    • profile image

      Nana Waffle 11 months ago

      A pro is it could increase what we know about planet earth. A con is it is a danger if we dicover aliens.

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      Lily 11 months ago

      Nice I guess

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      your mom.com 13 months ago

      Space X has made a shuttle that is reusable and that is made by Elon Musk look it up.

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      mom 13 months ago

      this so cool never give up

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      Raul 14 months ago

      So your not for space exploration?

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      Midnight's Corner 17 months ago

      This helped me a lot for my academy summer project for Science . . . you really should write more articles like this!

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      justin200213 18 months ago

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      Justin200213 18 months ago

      This website is moderately informative but I was able to use it to help complete my schoolwork. I am a proud 14 year old Canadian.

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      Diamonddoggy68 19 months ago

      Come on guys, it's not that bad. Stop being mean to Carol.

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      Fraif 19 months ago

      Who is Faith? Oreo... :/

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      oreo 19 months ago

      hi faith my name is oreo

    • profile image

      Fraif 19 months ago

      One hundredth comment ¡

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      oreo 19 months ago

      im doing a debate for this at school can you plz have more information. thanks

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      trlololololololololoolololololo 20 months ago

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      MISS OLD GRANNY 20 months ago

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      cool ;D 20 months ago

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      Hi 20 months ago

      Ur mom

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      hello this really helped me during school thxs a ton!

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      amazing info so proud of you son

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      Caroline 2 years ago

      Who r u "batman"

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      happy llama 2 years ago

      who is batman?

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      Caroline 2 years ago

      who r u "batman"

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      happy llama 2 years ago

      hey caroline and ew batman

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      Caroline 2 years ago

      Hey happy llama

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      Caroline 2 years ago

      Thats rude plz not hate!

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      YOLO SWAG 2 years ago

      HAHAHA happy halloween

      TO : caroline and happy llama

      BOOOOOO :)

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      happy llama 2 years ago

      no hate!

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      fart u!!

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      happy llama 2 years ago

      really "deez nuts"

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      FAT MAMMA LLAMA 2 years ago

      well.........

    • profile image

      happy llama 2 years ago

      hey caroline and fat mamma llama:)

    • profile image

      Caroline 2 years ago

      Hiiiii

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      happy llama 2 years ago

      This is a amazing website and is very helpful and helped me get an A+! Thank you so much for the help! keep up the good work and keep posting and block out all dem haters!!!!!!!

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      Caroline 2 years ago

      This was a very helpful website to me! It helped me do good Thanks!!

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      David 2 years ago

      Cant help with home work thnks

    • profile image

      Ethan Elkstom 2 years ago

      This website was so very pleasant and gave copious amount of pleasure even though I am not planning on going to space I can tell you this we will win

    • profile image

      lightpony 2 years ago

      bruh

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      DEEZ NUTS 2 years ago

      efefefeeeewegegg

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      Neelraj patel 2 years ago

      Space rocket is more important to us so according to me, rocket knowledge is improves by government

    • profile image

      deez nuts 2 years ago

      your mom is filling the space

    • profile image

      spunk man (.Y.) 2 years ago

      i think all of you are sil*y

    • profile image

      jhonson 2 years ago

      hi

      i like this page its very informative

    • profile image

      Kruti 2 years ago

      Hi!!!!!

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      This is an amazing website, it helped me get a "A" on my paper

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      dzwaggergaming 2 years ago

      go to my chanell

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      Crazy 2 years ago

      This was not helpful *Derp*

    • profile image

      noob 2 years ago

      :3 cvgdsgsg

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      kcfan 2 years ago

      great article but space has so much for us to learn keep writhing these great pieces

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      Bob 2 years ago

      I think this is very cool and I love my my name

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      liveXdieXcryX 2 years ago

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      trincy 3 years ago

      It is very helpful to me guiding a debate thank you so much

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      Sawsen 3 years ago

      Lové it (y)

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      DanielOMG 3 years ago

      Great!

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      rimpy 3 years ago

      Its nice thanks for this paper

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      nishant 3 years ago

      Hi! I think the page is nice but must include more advantages .

    • profile image

      kaiwalya&manisha 3 years ago

      it helps us t0 get 2nd grade

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      mark 3 years ago

      this page helped with a 6th grade project lol

    • profile image

      Toni 3 years ago

      Hi erm could u tell me the advantages and disadvantages plz I'm really silly when it comes to things like this thanks x

    • profile image

      Sneha 3 years ago

      Hi, as i mentioned before, this is a resource and I was wondering who is the author and what is his/her qualifications?

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      Sneha 3 years ago

      Hi, I am using your website as resource for my project and am wondering when you wrote this, or the day it was published.

    • profile image

      loza 3 years ago

      im doing a debate on this at school. please some more disadvantages

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      na 4 years ago

      no help with home work thanks anyways

    • profile image

      yajat 4 years ago

      I'm a kid and want disadvateges

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      damini 4 years ago

      coooooooooll!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      Flash Hacker 4 years ago

      not really a hackr but thx carol for this info

    • profile image

      mackey 4 years ago

      nice

    • profile image

      Gamer 4 years ago

      stop blaming him, who cares if you got a D-. I don't, go find other info else where if you don't like it!!!!!

    • profile image

      Ruby 4 years ago

      Stupid site I hate it carol, your information stinks!!!!!!

    • profile image

      dredon ryle 4 years ago

      wrong awnsers

    • profile image

      rex 4 years ago

      hi i hate the sight

    • profile image

      Trula528 4 years ago

      I hated this page. I got a D- because of it!

    • profile image

      Kade 4 years ago

      I love space because it is cool and I want t live in space

    • profile image

      katie v 4 years ago

      I am a space expolation

    • profile image

      KUMAR 4 years ago

      I am an indian too! WOAHHHH

    • pramodgokhale profile image

      pramodgokhale 5 years ago from Pune( India)

      I am an Indian and proud as Indian Space agency celebrated century of launching satellite, for our developing country it is matter of pride.There is strong critique in our country against this program.

      Space mission is a great job involving efforts, dedication and intelligence being utilized to achieve goals. Advantage of space mission and exploration is that spin-offs technologies and later transferred to industry thus creating wealth and employment.

      Human passions and ideas has no end.Creative humans never take rest and for benefit of mankind we should encourage them to utilize their intelligence, instead ruining. Military application is a controversial part but we leave to governments .

      In India our entire Internet, stock exchanges, IT industry, solely depends on satellite communication and without that it will not work and damage Indian economy too. Very few people know this fact.

      Development of new technologies including space is a process and we can not reverse it. It will be disastrous for mankind

      thank you for scientific article

      pramod gokhale

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      5 years ago

      good article

    • profile image

      adney 5 years ago

      tell me the disadvantage of space exploration

    • profile image

      arod297 5 years ago

      science is my fave subject of all

    • profile image

      arod127 5 years ago

      this paper help me get a good grade in school lol

    • profile image

      tony miller 5 years ago

      science is so cool

    • profile image

      justinprater 5 years ago

      this was such a good paper thank you for uploading it

    • profile image

      barnes 5 years ago

      i love space:)

    • profile image

      hayden 5 years ago

      right on

    • profile image

      fat7i 5 years ago

      hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

    • profile image

      Wessam 5 years ago

      I like your style of writing!!!! The article is so beneficial