Care more about our space programs


Madelyn Knight, Photos Editor

One of my favorite things to do when it’s dark outside is to take a moment and look up. The stars, although not always so bright, have sparked my curiosity since I was younger.

But, there is much more out there than stars. 49 years ago, the first human walked on the moon and since then, our space program has been viewed with less significance. However, as of 2018, the program has lifted off and is gaining new importance as we begin to set our sights on things such as NASA’s deep space exploration and SpaceX’s plan to reach Mars by 2026.

We, as a society, should be much more involved, invested and interested in what is happening in the world’s space programs. The largest and most controversial problem with space exploration for most people, is the question of: why should we care about space and other planets when our planet is bad enough as it is? Why should we be devoting billions of dollars to space programs when there are people starving?

All are very reasonable debates, but space exploration is much too vital to ignore. For one, it’s human nature to explore the things unknown to us. If the explorers of the late 1400’s decided to not cross the atlantic after the discovery of the Americas, where would we be today?

The research being done about space is not easy to understand in short-term thinking. However, the long term benefits gained from this research are substantially undervalued and must be taken into consideration. Because of human nature to push the boundaries of the unknown, and then push even further, new technologies must be created to do the research that is needed to be done. Often these technologies have benefited people on Earth.

NASA has provided us with new inventions such as cochlear implants, high capacity batteries, advances in the aerodynamics of vehicles, UV filters for glasses, smoke detectors, cloud technology, satellite television, Google Earth imagery and breast cancer detection, and that’s just to name a few.

If we stop caring about space exploration, we stop caring about the future and what could potentially end it. The human race is simply settling for whatever comes at it, even if that means extinction. Asteroids and other space debris threaten the safety of our planet.  

According to the NASA website, “Estimates suggest less than 10% of objects smaller than 300 meters in diameter and less than 1% of objects smaller than 100 meters in diameter have been discovered, and it will take a global effort with innovative solutions to accelerate the completion of the survey of potentially hazardous asteroids.”

Luckily, through their Asteroid Grand Challenge, NASA is increasing their efforts to detect and avoid potentially harmful disasters, and they are even planning to retrieve a small asteroid to put into orbit just outside of the moon for an eventual manned mission to retrieve samples.

The privately owned SpaceX company has its eyes set for Mars in the next decade and even hopes to have human settlements on Mars of over a million people by the 2060s. NASA is following up right behind them with their own Journey To Mars program to get humans to Mars by 2020.

There’s so many reasons on why we should get to Mars, but the most important thing is that Mars once had water, and because of our ability to travel there, maybe we can discover what happened to the planet and stop it from happening to our own.

The space program is so complex and layered with different programs and research. But, it’s important to remember that we as a society need to keep pushing outwards towards the stars. We need and yearn to know more as human beings, we need to prevent a catastrophe from  happening and the only way we can do that is to really pay attention and care about our space program.