It’s no secret that the federal government is dealing with some major economic setbacks. Even before the pandemic of COVID-19, there were significant deficits in the budget that sparked controversies every time one program was funded and another was cut. The problems with federal funding have incited arguments in almost every industry, as the phrase “You can’t please everyone” becomes a regular part of balancing the budget.
One of the sectors that was impacted with substantial cuts was that of the space exploration program. Proponents of this program believe that it’s an essential area that needs more funding, not less. Yet others who argue against it state that until the government is able to fix problems on our own planet, we have no right to be exploring other parts of the universe. In their eyes, research and funding of Earth should take priority over that of space colonization, but both sides have their own solid arguments.
The Controversy of Funding Space Research
The government has helped to fund NASA for decades, and with that funding has come the innovative International Space Station. With this technological advancement, astronauts have been able to live on the ISS and explore space, with the goal of having all of the research funded by commercial sectors by 2025. By defunding the ISS, though, NASA would use government funding to explore the moon further, but over $18 billion of taxpayer money has been used so far, without a lot of return on that investment.
Opponents of federal funding in space research say that the billions of dollars allocated towards exploring outside our own atmosphere could be better spent helping to end human suffering here. As programs like Social Security are on the cutting board, it’s understandable that there are concerns. But those who are at the forefront of allocating money towards space research understand the importance of having Americans at the lead of this field of science.
How the Government Got Involved in Space Exploration
Most of the people arguing against space exploration funding don’t recall the launch of Sputnik in 1957. When Russia had the first satellite in space, followed by other “firsts,” the United States policymakers were convinced that they were behind and, since Russia was the Cold War rival at the time, it was determined that our country needed to step up their education and research funding to surpass Russia’s innovations.
Because of these investments, the U.S. was able to be the first country to have a man on the moon, winning the “space race” of the time and planting the seeds for further research. But when the private sector stepped in to begin funding NASA and other research, federal spending has diminished. Still, back when President Dwight D Eisenhower and those in Congress at the time of Sputnik’s launch knew the significance of being in control of space exploration, there was a reason it was so important. That reason persists today as the U.S. fights to hold its position as a superpower government.
Should Research Remain Earth-Bound?
The next steps include the idea of a colony of humans in space. Whichever country would be the first to establish colonization on another planet would effectively control space. The United States wants to be the leader in that industry, but doesn’t want to have to foot the bill for the research to have it done.
Whether it’s a feasible mission or not, the fact is that there are currently countries with more funding and just as good, if not better, technology access who are striving to be the first to establish a colony in space. Without federal funding, the United States will fall woefully behind these other countries, losing its place as a world leader. But the reality is that the funding is necessary to fix problems in healthcare and communities on this planet, in our country, right now. Trying to keep one eye on the ball of the future while also keeping the other one on the problems occurring in the United States now is a difficult juggling act. The question of whether research should remain earth-bound or not isn’t as black or white as it sounds, and there’s not a solution that appeases everyone that has been determined as of yet.