Table of contents
- Introduction to Space Exploration and Its Controversies
- Economic Growth and Technological Advancements through Space Exploration
- Unlocking New Resources: The Potential of Space Exploration
- Health Risks and Accidents: The Downside of Space Exploration
- Reference List
Introduction to Space Exploration and Its Controversies
Although exploring space provides a considerable amount of advantages, the continued investment of necessary resources remains under great controversy. In this essay, the term “space exploration” refers to the study of objects outside the earth using contemporary technology, while also devoting substantial investment to develop the country in various aspects. In discussing whether or not resources should be invested in space exploration, this essay will examine arguments both for and against. The arguments in favour of space exploration include the growth of the economy and the role in providing useful resources. However, radiation and accidents may be harmful to health.
Economic Growth and Technological Advancements through Space Exploration
About concerning the role of space exploration in contemporary society, it would at first seem beneficial that the program is a catalyst for economic growth. The general consensus is that the vigorous development of new industries will inevitably promote the creation of employment opportunities. According to Lee (2010), a plan mentioned by President Obama which aimed at increasing funding for space exploration would add more than 2,500 positions over the next two years, and an increasing number of opportunities would be provided as companies race to become part of the space industry. Therefore, continuous investments of government in space exploration will result in a better performance in the employment rate. Furthermore, the technology acquired through space exploration contributes to the economic growth in the communication system and remote sensing technology. The White House (2010) indicates that the United States has led the world in space exploration, which has expanded human vision and understanding of the universe over the past 50 years. These achievements, in turn, have led to incredible technological advances which have transformed the economy, for example, the flow of information around the world as never before through communication systems. The model of information sharing has exerted a considerable influence on the development of economic globalization and provided favourable conditions for the realization of a beneficial financial situation of all countries. Not only has communication technology achieved success, but also remote sensing technology has benefited the whole world. As a developing country which relies more on agriculture, the Philippines has experienced the benefits of technology for reducing economic loss related to harvests. As a country on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, dozens of typhoons occurred every year, causing irreparable damage to agriculture and the nation (Lele, 2018). Hence, remote sensing technology attained through space exploration is crucial for countries to prepare for storms ahead of time, and it can reduce most economic losses through observation and prediction. Thus, due to the continuous investment of space exploration, the emergence of various technologies has a reduction in economic loss and promote economic growth. Therefore, it is advisable that the number of resources should be maintained or increased rather than reduced in space exploration.
Unlocking New Resources: The Potential of Space Exploration
Another reason for investing in exploring space is that more useful resources will be obtained, which may ease the earth's resource constraints. Schwartz (2011) believes that many of the millions of asteroids in and around the solar system contain large amounts of crystalline water, which can be extracted from a mineral by heating. The statement means many kinds of resources could be provided by space exploration. Nuclear power as new energy has multiple advantages, but it is rare. Norman and King (2017) point out that there are abundant resources on the moon. Helium-3 on its surface is a precious nuclear fuel on earth, which is a potentially unlimited and pollution-free energy source. If fully exploited, it could ease the earth's centuries-old shortage of resources. Kulcinski (as cited in Seife, 2004) also finds that if helium-3 and deuterium reactors were used to replace the conventional generation of all U.S. power plants, the entire amount of electricity needed in 2004 would be only 40 metric tons, and the moon's surface contains millions of tons of helium-3, compared to a few hundred kilograms on earth. It could be concluded that with reducing investment in exploring space, there may be a growing problem in the shortage of precious resources. Moreover, not only can provide valuable resources, but also effectively solve the problem of water shortage. According to the UK Space Exploration Working Group (2007), water is the consumable of sustaining life, and it can be decomposed into hydrogen and oxygen through solar electrolysis, which becomes high performance rocket propellant. As a desperately needed resource, it will be exhausted in the future. Thus, space exploration has become an indispensable program. In addition, technology about water purification acquired through space exploration could also transform waste resources on earth into useful water resources. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (n.d.) claims that the system developed by NASA can use existing resources to convert the wastewater from breathing, sweat and urine into drinking water, and purify water in underdeveloped areas where water may be heavily polluted to obtain safe drinking water. As a result, investment in space exploration should be encouraged rather than limited.
Health Risks and Accidents: The Downside of Space Exploration
However, the negative impact of astronauts’ health is one reason why investment in space exploration should not occur. There is believed to be an inextricable connection between exploration and accidents. Although space exploration has achieved many successes, the process has always had many victims. Jandial, Hoshide, Waters & Limoli, (2018) note that astronauts are exposed to complex space radiation fields, which have been identified as causing health damage, as moving away from earth's protective magnetosphere to distant worlds such as Mars. Radiation exposure can have some unintended and adverse consequences, especially brain damage that can lead to progressive and debilitating effects on cognition. The experience of men and women who participated in space missions between 1988 and 1995 adds to the evidence about the dangers of radiation. Assad and de Weck (2015) state that the illnesses of the participants were linked to defects in the transport system, which exposed the researchers to radiation. In addition, Willey, Lloyd, Nelson and Bateman (2011) report that long space missions can cause damage to the bone tissue and bone cells of astronauts, which can increase the risk of cancer and thus threaten their lives. Therefore, as more resources are devoted to space exploration, more adventurers will be hurt. Furthermore, space exploration even causing the death of astronauts directly. According to Bendemra (2014), accidents which lead to death in a moment have occurred many times in history, for instances, Russian Soyuz 11, when it entered the atmosphere, the astronaut's primary and backup parachute failed to work, causing the capsule to crash and astronaut died instantly. Accordingly, space exploration should be limited to reduce possibilities of injuring and dying.
In conclusion, it might seem that space exploration is a negative phenomenon, with the radiation and accidents are harmful to astronauts, even threaten their lives. However, a number of advantages are apparent. These include the fact that resources invested in space exploration will boost economic growth by providing work opportunities and various technology. Space exploration can also be seen as a necessary program, due to the shortage of precious and useful resources will be eased through mining and extraction resources in space and converting waste. Hence, because of the significant impact of these advantages, it can be concluded that resources should be invested in space exploration.
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- Bendemra, H. (2014). Five space travel accidents that shaped the modern era. Retrieved from The Conversation website: https://theconversation.com/five-space-travel-accidents-that-shaped-the-modern-era-33759
- Davenport, C. (2019, January 11). Why 2019 is shaping up to be a stellar year for space exploration. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com
- Jandial, R., Hoshide, R., Waters, J.D., & Limoli, C.L. (2018). Space-brain: The negative effects of space exposure on the central nervous system. Surgical Neurology International, 9(9). doi: 10.4103/sni.sni_250_17
- Lee, J. (2010). 21st Century Space Exploration: 'The Next Chapter That We Can Write Together Here at NASA'. Retrieved from the White House website: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2010/04/15/making-investments-groundbreaking-developments-21st-century-space-exploration
- Lele, A. (2018). Asia and Space Tourism. Astropolitics, 16(3), 187-201. doi: 10.1080/14777622.2018.1532743
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration. (n.d.). NASA Technologies Benefit Our Lives. Retrieved from https://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2008/tech_benefits.html
- Norman, M. & King, P. (2017). Five reasons India, China and other nations plan to travel to the Moon. Retrieved from The Conversation website: https://theconversation.com/five-reasons-india-china-and-other-nations-plan-to-travel-to-the-moon-87589
- Schwartz, J.S.J. (2011). Our moral obligation to support space exploration. Environmental Ethics, 33, 67-88. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/4584878/Our_Moral_Obligation_to_Support_Space_Exploration
- Seife, C. (2004). Moon's 'Abundant Resources' Largely an Unknown Quantity. Science, 303(5664), 1603-1603. Retrieved from https://primoa.library.unsw.edu.au/permalink/f/1uqach6/TN_jstor_archive_233836426
- UK Space Exploration Working Group. (2007). Report of the UK Space Exploration Working Group. Retrieved from https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/488149/SEWG_Report.pdf
- The White House. (2010, June 28). Statement by the President on the New National Space Policy [Press release]. Retrieved from https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/statement-president-new-national-space-policy
- Willey, J., Lloyd, S., Nelson, S. & Bateman, A. (2011). Ionizing Radiation and Bone Loss: Space Exploration and Clinical Therapy Applications. Clinical Reviews in Bone and Mineral Metabolism, 9(1), 54-62. doi:10.1007/s12018-011-9092-8