Josh Bolinger: What Good is NASA?
Just what good is a space program?
There are really two ways to answer that question. One way to answer that question is to talk about the good our space program has already done, the other way is to say we don’t actually know yet what good it will do, and that’s exactly the point.
Okay, let’s look at what we already have. The technology from our space program helped win the cold war, and defeat the Soviet Union, which was a genuine danger to the peace of the world for most of the last century. Not only did the technology created to land a man on the moon help us build better weapons to defend our country and our allies, it also convinced the Soviets that if we could hit the backside of the moon with a vehicle, we could certainly hit their military installations with a missile. And belief that we were capable of building a space-based weapons system is what caused them to finally spend themselves into bankruptcy and retreat from Europe.
And in the post-cold-war era, the technology that we developed to go out into space has produced the internet, home computers, and hand held telephones that can call almost anywhere on the planet, answer virtually any question we ask them, and help us navigate from one place to another almost without thinking about it.
So, we already have an entire economy built around the advancements of the space program and advanced research.
But, no one knew any of this was coming. When man set foot on the moon, Walter Cronkite didn’t tell the world “Look at those footprints! This is one giant step towards pocket phones and electronic mail!”
Because that is the larger point of research into areas of knowledge that we don’t fully understand. We don’t know what we are going to discover.
That’s why it’s called discovery.
Even Columbus had no idea what he was really going to find when he set out. But I think it was worth the trip.