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Should the U.S. spend billions of dollars on space exploration?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/3/2016 Category: Science
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 749 times Debate No: 96699
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Over the course of 50 years, NASA has sent people to the moon, sent rovers to Mars, and is even thinking of sending people to Mars as well. However, have you ever considered the cost of this program? NASA siphons up billions of dollars every year on space exploration. According to the official NASA budget, they plan to spend 18.5 billion dollars out of the about 21 billion they are funded. That's a lot of money. This large sum of money could be going towards actual terrestrial issues, such as poverty in the U.S., hunger, global warming. Over the years, NASA has accumulated its amount spent to about 450 billion dollars. NASA spending this money on launches is like them laughing in the face of any poor person. Other problems occur with NASA, such as the successfulness of their launches. Though, yes, over the years, the successfulness has increased greatly (about 94%), much money, time, and resources have been put into these failed attempts. Take Apollo 1 for example. During test runs, the cabin caught fire, killing every astronaut on board, and wasting billions of dollars in today's money on it. Another example is the Apollo 13, another massive amount of money paid. While this time, no astronauts were killed, this was a major setback in profits and time. The third and final issue I would like the talk about is space pollution. More than 500,000 pieces orbit around the Earth, flying at speeds up to 17,500 mph. NASA themselves send 27.5% of this debris up into space, from rocket boosters to nonfunctioning satellites. While NASA says "it's not as bad as it looks," the debris just keeps crashing into satellites and creating more debris, on top of the fact that it's highly dangerous. NASA is stuck in the 1960's, and instead of dealing with today's problems back on Earth, they are still trying to figure out how to put people on Mars. I think the time has come to pull the plug on NASA's space exploration.


Hiya, let's do this.

So, I'm not entirely clear on whether you're arguing specifically that NASA should not be receiving funding because that money could go to better causes, or NASA should not be receiving money because they've caused problems. I suppose I'll just have to argue both.

On the first claim, it's quite subjective. Whether the money deserved to go to NASA rather than something else is really in the eye of the beholder, I personally think that with what NASA has both discovered about the universe and given to us as a society in terms of technology and philosophy is well worth any expense, but seeing as how that could simply be disagreed with as a matter of principle, I'll instead argue that there are greater concerns. The 20 something billion dollars that NASA is funded, while that sounds like a whole lot of money, is peanuts in terms of the United States budget, and more than half of that budget is allotted exclusively for the cause of the betterment of society as you claim it should be. The total budget of the US allotted in 2015 was 3.8 trillion dollars. Of this, 2.33 trillion dollars, or 60.68% of the total, was allocated to Social Security, Medicaid, and other health programs, including, I believe, food stamps. The runner up here is, as we all know, the military, with 609.3 billion dollars, or 15.88% of the total. Keeping this in mind, the amount of the US budget allocated to all scientific pursuits, of which NASA is a member, totaled at 29.81 billion dollars, only a meager 0.78% of the total. Suggesting that we should remove NASA because the benefits provided by them doesn't justify the cost, so that we can give the money to other pursuits, is a bit of a waste of time. You would be far better off arguing for the reduction and redistribution of military expenditures, rather than putting the blame on something that doesn't even make a single percent's worth of a dent in the budget.

Now, the second thing is the problems they've caused. NASA has had failures, certainly, but to argue that the whole program should be cancelled simply because they've not had a flawless record is unfair. Yes, for NASA it is expensive to fail, but they take hundreds of hours creating thousands of countermeasures to minimize the risk. It's simply a fact of life that nobody can be 100% successful every single time. Things will go wrong. We would be absolutely nowhere near the place we are in society and technology if nobody ever took any risks. In terms of space debris, it isn't really as bad as it looks. Space is big, the risks of a collision are not that high to begin with, and most of what's active in areas of such risk are controlled in such a way to avoid these collisions, should they happen. Even so, it is a problem, and NASA has addressed it as a problem. But if you eliminated them because of it, the problem wouldn't go away? Who else would you have solve it, besides the people who deal with space?

I would also like to argue that NASA has been hugely beneficial to us, medically, technologically, and socially. There are a ton of essential pieces of technology in our world that trace their roots back to NASA, and they've even made a list:, or Wikipedia's: NASA does more than just put people on places. They're an integral part of research, especially in medical fields where the ISS comes in handy, and they've discovered so much about the universe in which we live, that if we're willing to spend 102 billion dollars on educating ourselves, we should at least spend some money funding the people who create a large portion of the material being educated.

Source for budgetary information:, who in turn get their information from:
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Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by jessevsm 2 years ago
I like this debate. Its an interesting one and one that I've heard from time to time.

For a response to the commenter GrimlyF, however, I wanted to offer a few counter-points.

Firstly, one of the neat things about learning new things is that it often opens up new doors and avenues to questions you didn't even know of at the time. As the saying generally goes, the more you know, the more you know how much you do not know. New discoveries open up new questions and ideas. It's not always about just trying to find something to do to keep the money flowing. Though that can perhaps be an incentive, depending on the project. But there can be many reasons for investigating such things in an effort to understand the universe around us.

In terms of space habitats in orbit above earth or the space elevator...I think you have a misunderstanding of what's considered 'feasible'. There is a lot more difficulty an complications to building such structures than you seem to believe there is. While each of those things are technically possible, the logistics of getting them up is the difficult part. Not to mention, the true usefulness of a space elevator may be a bit limited. The ISS is kind of an early idea of how space habitats could work and operate, but there are still many things that have to be worked out before it's made on a larger scale. Not to mention, it's prohibitively expensive. Until we can get some kind of workable 'base of operations' out on the moon or in space, it's going to be really expensive to send things into space. Or unless we develop better technologies that can be used to push vehicles into space.
Posted by GrimlyF 2 years ago
I am on Cons side in this but for different reasons.There is a project (partly funded by N.A.S.A.) which is going to count all the Black Holes in the Universe.There is another trying to prove the existence of Wormholes in space.Another is studying an "Anomaly" 1/2 a billion light years away which gives off "strange pulses of light".These and thousands of other projects have no use to anyone but the people doing the projects who must constantly come up with "new data" to ensure their livelihoods.These esoteric projects must stop.Why is N.A.S.A. and the rest of the worlds space agencies not building habitats to orbit the Earth?.Why not build the theoretically perfectly feasible "Space Elevator".The building of just these 2 projects would make the physical exploration of our Solar System so much cheaper and far more attainable.
Posted by TheRealSpassky101 2 years ago
It beats spending billions on military spending.
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