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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Just wondering...

...why, with all the hunger and sickness and crises in this world, governments see fit to spend gadrillions of dollars on space missions that will not definitely result in practical benefits to humanity.


Do you know something about this? It's a muse I've had before... maybe I'm just missing something here... enlighten me in the comments, please.



(btw, note that I've added a new post tag Just Wondering. I'm hoping this will turn into a series and result in more of my thoughts being posted without waiting to be written up well.)

13 comments:

BrooklynWolf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BrooklynWolf said...

Why do you assume that the space program has no benefits to humanity?

http://techtran.msfc.nasa.gov/at_home.html

The Wolf

Bas~Melech said...

But can you explain why tens of billions of dollars are better spent looking for water and microorganisms on mars than on humanitarian aid? I just don't get it, sorry.

Rochelle said...

I did an oral report on this just a short while ago.
Most of what I said agreed with you though I did mention a few advantages.
For example, all the sattelite stuff works from space. And seeing hiw different things work in space has helped scince down here. They sent seeds to space and then after planted them on earth and the produce was bigger and better then usual.
But yes, overally, its a waste of money to invest so much on space when there are people starving. The govt should limit the amount theyre willing to give.

Bas~Melech said...

Ok, some space technology, like the sattelites you mentioned, are certainly helpful. But megamegabucks are being spent on what seems to me to be aimless research. I'm still looking for some kind of confirmation of this statistic, but I've heard that more money is spent per day on the space programs than is spent per year on cancer research. There can be no excuse for this.

Dave said...

NASA's entire budget FY08: $17.3 billion

Or roughly $47 million per day.

The Mars research program clocks in at around $1.3 billion in the 2009 proposed budget.

National Cancer Institute FY07: $4.7 billion

Or roughly $13 million per day.

Oh, and for reference, the cost of the Iraq War is $343 million per day.

I believe (I'd have to total up the numbers to be sure) that Halliburton/KBR (aka VP Cheney's old company) has made more money in no-competitive-bid contracts than the NASA and NCI budgets combined.

badforshidduchim said...

We do get some benefit from it - cell phones, Google Earth, etc.

Also, NASA has projects (you can look it up on their website) for the general benefit of mankind and farmers, blah blah.

The problem with NASA is a little like the problem with the MTA and anything else that ends with "association" - nobody is peering over their shoulder or reading their books. They could get by with a smaller budget, but they don't need to.

Oh, and why do we do it? To maintain some semblance of technological superiority over our competitors. Just like during the Cold War.

ProfK said...

Just a note--the Cape Canaveral Space program is closing down this year. Even space programs don't go on forever. Want to bet the money saved does not go into cancer research?

FS said...

I can tell you that the microwave and velcro were both invented by NASA.

Why does the government waste money on burning food to provide US farmers with an incentive to farm?

Why does the government give each presidential campaign 84 million in federal funding?

Why does the government give tax cuts to people who spend their tax cuts checks on a fancy dinner and who make millions of dollars a year?

Why does the federal government use SUVS as its vehicles of choice?

David_On_The_Lake said...

I was thinking the same thing...

All the comments here are so off the point..because the sole purpose of this mission is to check if there's ice beneath the surface of mars..!

Lvnsm27 said...

it boggles my mind too

Adam in the Caribbean said...

The purpose to see if there is water on Mars is really to find micro-organisms on Mars. While it may be nice to find a large pocket of frozen water to one day support a Mars colony (I put my money on Mashiach coming before that point), the main reason to go there is to either find fossilized or active lifeforms.

The question that you have to ask is: how does finding a Martian organism impact me? One probable answer is to develop theories on how life developed in our solar system and using that information to develop new and ptoentially more effective methodologies to treat medical conditions.

In addition, the technology that needs to be developed to ensure the success of the mission, will in time trickle down to positively affect our lives. Much of the technology that we use today came out of research & development that was aimed at achieving entirely different goal or were outright accidents. There is no telling the benefits that will come out of NASAs projects. It is pretty much certain that we won't achieve these innovations if we don't for the exploration.

Hyman said...

We explore space because exploration is part of what we are driven to do by the way our minds work. We seek knowledge just for the sake of knowing. And I suspect that we have such drives because evolution killed off anyone who was content to just sit and eat.

You might as well ask why we individually spend money on art and entertainment, or time on writing blog posts, instead of feeding the hungry. That's just how we are.