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Space Exploration/The value of space exploration

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Question
Why we should be spending money exploring and researching space when there are so many problems here on Earth that we need to solve first and do your opinions differ for human or robot exploration?

Answer
Hi, Annabelle, thanks for writing.  There are a number of reasons we study space, and why it is important.  1. direct benefits: thousands of lives are saved by satellites warning us of the weather.  Thousands were probably saved by satellite study of Sandy alone, giving people and pets time time to escape disaster.  During the cold war with USSR, space surveillance probably prevented nuclear attacks, also. 2. research benefits: studying planet weather helps us understand our own weather and predict it better.  Studies of the laws of physics, chemistry, etc. in the universe will eventually have practical value. 3. technology is constantly updated by space research.  From computers to medicine, all have benefited.  Our present day computers have grown out of the primitive "top of the line" computers used in space in years past.  A 1 terabyte hard drive, that a lot of people have to back up their computers, has 13,000,000 times as much memory as the Apollo lunar lander of 1969!  However, if it weren't for the computer power required in the space program, we probably wouldn't have anything like that now.  A website, http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/benefits/coolstation.html has information on benefits of technology from the International Space Station, http://spinoff.nasa.gov/index.html is a website of spinoff technology from the space program, and http://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2008/pdf/timeline_08.pdf is a timeline of practical technology from the space program.  Over 1000 inventions, including the Cat-Scan have resulted from space research.  Some medical and other items can only be produced in lack of gravity.  Costing less than 1% of the federal budget, the space program is a real practical benefit to all mankind.  For the second question, human exploration in space is far more expensive than an unmanned spacecraft.  It is extremely necessary for a lot of space research, although far more robotic spacecraft will be used for cost reasons, and since it is adequate for most work.  Write anytime!

Space Exploration

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Kenneth Renshaw

Expertise

Answer basic space flight questions, research info on specific space flights. Answer questions on astronomy

Experience

Amateur astronomer and avid astronomy/space flight fan for 31 years.

Organizations
Official NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador for Arkansas and Missouri (one of about 300 nationwide). (http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/ambassador/profiles/Kenneth_Renshaw.htm)

Publications
Numerous local and area newspapers.

Education/Credentials
AA/BME/MME

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