The Instigator
KirstinKate
Pro (for)
Tied
7 Points
The Contender
CaylaMichelle
Con (against)
Tied
7 Points

Should the National Aeronautics and space administration (NASA) be government funded?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/10/2009 Category: Science
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,768 times Debate No: 8209
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)

 

KirstinKate

Pro

Basic background on the topic:The USA's National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) was founded in 1958 as a response to the Cold War threat posed by the USSR's launch of the first artificial satellite. NASA rapidly responded with America's own successful launches of unmanned and unmanned space craft as part of a "space race" with the Soviet Union. Its most famous achievement was sending men to the moon, beginning with Neil Armstrong in 1969. Other achievements include launching the Skylab space station in the 1970s, the Voyager programme which explored our solar system before heading off for deep space, and the Hubble Space telescope which has explored distant galaxies in search of the origins of the universe. Since the late 1970s NASA's most high profile programme has been the Space Shuttle, a reusable craft designed to carry men and cargo into space, but there are now plans to revisit the Moon and eventually land human beings on Mars for the first time.
Many have accused NASA of losing its way since the mid-1970s, inventing missions as a way of protecting its own funding and status rather than pursuing programmes on their own merits. The Space Shuttle and the International Space Station in particular have been criticised as examples of high-profile and hugely expensive programmes with no real justification other than to keep human beings in space and NASA employees in work. These programmes have tended to overshadow the achievements of unmanned NASA missions in peering into the origins of the universe and exploring our solar system (e.g. with robotic craft on Mars). Many people argue that the billions of dollars spent on NASA every year would be better spent solving problems here on earth, for example in improving education and providing opportunity for poor Americans. The 2003 Columbia disaster when a space shuttle was destroyed on reentry into the earth's atmosphere and 7 astronauts died has also focused attention on NASA's failings.
Criticism of NASA has increased over the past decade as private efforts to send vehicles into space have gathered pace. SpaceshipOne captured headlines in 2004 after winning the $10 million X Prize for a private craft able to take a person to space twice within two weeks. Today a number of companies are aiming to offer cheap access to space, both for tourists (via Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, for example) and for commercial satellite launches. People are increasingly asking if NASA is still needed or whether space missions could now be left to private business. Some even argue that NASA is acting as an obstacle to private enterprise in space, and demand that the government should get out of the way of this growing economic sector.
In this changed climate funding for NASA has become more controversial and it faces tough annual battles to get its budget passed by Congress each year. The arguments below focus on whether the government should fund NASA at all, but they could be adapted for related debastes such as privatisation of the agency, the commercialisation of space, and President Bush's New Vision for Space Exploration.

Arguments:
1.The government does not put a high enough priorty on space exploration and NASA should receive much more government funding in order to expand its crucial mission. Far from being pointless, NASA's recent work has allowed mankind to explore the origins of the universe and our own planet's formation. It has led the search for worlds around distant stars, where life might one day be found. And it continues to embrace the challenge of human spaceflight; manned missions have a flexibility and scope that robot probes will never deliver, and they can inspire and unite humanity in pursuit of a noble common cause.

2.Cutting NASA out of the federal budget, would only cut less than one percent of the total. Compare this to the 5% of the federal budget spent on NASA at the height of the Apollo missions to the moon and it is clear that its current programmes are affordable. Nor would scrapping NASA and spending its budget on social programmes make any great difference – the federal government alone spends nearly a hundred times more on social programmes than it does on NASA (and state and local governments spend tens of billions more tax dollars on similar programmes). So the impact on the poor from redirecting our space exploration budget would be less significant than a rounding error in federal accounting. By comparison, defence and homeland security spending is more than forty times NASA's budget each year, so if the nation is to change its priorities that is clearly a better place to start.

3.Even if earth's huge social and environmental problems could be solved simply by throwing more money at them, redirecting NASA's small budget will make no real difference. In fact NASA makes a real contribution to solving the world's problems by helping to expose and investigate the issues facing us. For example, NASA satellites provide critical data on problems such as the ozone layer or global warming, and they can expose illegal deforestation or track the progress of dangerous weather events such as hurricanes. More profoundly, NASA's pictures from space of our beautiful Earth have changed human consciousness, bringing home to us our common destiny as shared inhabitants of a fragile planet. Nothing has done more to stimulate the growth of internationalism and environmental awareness.

4.NASA's funding and management are not perfect, but that is a reason to reform them, not to abolish the agency altogether. Part of the reason the agency's work is expensive is that it is both cutting-edge and concerned to minimise risk. Other countries' space agencies and private companies may look more cost-effective, but that is because they are less ambitious, being largely content to replicate what NASA already achieved decades ago. They may also be prepared to tolerate more risk to their manned missions than NASA would. But with NASA's commitment to the most challenging and innovative scientific missions comes economic benefits, as technological breakthroughs in materials, communications, imaging, and propulsion find new applications in civilian industries here in the USA.

5.NASA has always been committed to manned flight, so President Bush's New Vision for Space Exploration was hardly imposed on the agency. Robot missions are fine for one-off, defined tasks, but they are not able to respond intelligently and flexibly to new situations in the way astronauts can. Manned missions can take on many more challenges (e.g. repairing and reconditinaing the Hubble space telescope); they also have huge importance in focusing the attention of mankind upon the mysteries of the universe and in inspiring millions of young people to become engineers and scientists. It is true there is a legitimate debate within the space community about manned vs unmanned missions, but few who wish to focus on unmanned spaceflight would want to shut NASA down. Instead they would like it to shift its priorities, generally into areas private space businesses are unlikely to venture.

6.In recent years many private sectors space companies have started up, which suggests that NASA is not preventing their growth. On the contrary, NASA's investment in research and technology has stimulated an eco-system of space industries that continue to depend on it for trained personnel and scientific innovation. But these private efforts will never replace NASA's role – they are only interested in the commercial opportunities of near-space, such as tourism or satellite launches. Private money will never wish to explore the solar system and answer the fundamental questions about the origins of the universe. For these, we have NASA.

7.The government should not be reliant on the private sector for its access to space. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, having a dedicated space agency continually expands the realm of the
CaylaMichelle

Con

Ok Luke Thompson (the guy she is debating about her hating him) Accepted this for me.
I agree with Kirsten.
Thanks Luke:(
Love you Kirsten!
Peace!
Debate Round No. 1
CaylaMichelle

Con

CaylaMichelle forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
KirstinKate

Pro

what the crap.

Extend my arguments.
CaylaMichelle

Con

CaylaMichelle forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
KirstinKate

Pro

man thats a shame.

Extend my arguments.
CaylaMichelle

Con

CaylaMichelle forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Justinisthecrazy 7 years ago
Justinisthecrazy
um this was interesting to read
Posted by Rob1Billion 7 years ago
Rob1Billion
wtf
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by KirstinKate 7 years ago
KirstinKate
KirstinKateCaylaMichelleTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Vote Placed by Justinisthecrazy 7 years ago
Justinisthecrazy
KirstinKateCaylaMichelleTied
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Total points awarded:07