What Good is NASA? • Josh Bolinger
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Josh Bolinger In Economics, Tech by Josh Bolinger | March 1, 2013

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.

4 thoughts on “What Good is NASA?”

  1. hank says:

    I think our national space program has been a tool to further the careers of various government officials. The privateers are the true space pioneers and my money is on them to help us gain an advantage in the universe, not just here on our own planet.

  2. ben says:

    I grew up watching the space launches and they don’t seem to get as much fanfare anymore. I wonder if that’s because it has become so routine or if society doesn’t really care any more.

  3. Allen says:

    The difference between our space program and Columbus is that we have farther to go and it has been scientifically proven. Columbus didn’t know how far his travels would take him, but we do. We can see what’s out there and we know what we can do and what we can’t. Our space program has a long way to go if it is going to find anything new out there and our governments should make that happen sooner than later.

  4. um no says:

    One of the things that pisses me off about this whole subject, is everytime you see an article on the newsfeeds about the space program, there is some dick in the comments going “we have people starving on earth! we shouldn’t go into space until we fix this planet, look how may people you could feed for the cost of the space station!”

    First, how come nobody ever says that about us starting a war? How come no one ever says, hey look how many people we could feed for the cost of an aircraft carrier? Or how about a basketball player? You read these articles about basketball players getting paid a hundred million dollars, and there’s never some guy in the comments whining about how we should feed starving people before we waste all that money on a guy who chases a little ball around for a living.

    Second, there will always be at least some poor and hungry people on the planet. If that’s your standard, we’ll all be stuck here till the water runs out.

    Third, I’m pretty sure all of the Irish who fled the mass starvation in the Potato Famine were pretty glad there was a new world to migrate to, where there was food.

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